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Heidegger: What is Art?

What is the essence of the work of art?

What kind of truth does the art reveal?

How is this truth exposed?

In his The Origin of the Work of Art (1935), Heidegger conceives of art as a wrestling arena - World vs. Earth - from which truth is unfolded.

Using Van Gogh's shoes paintings Heidegger shows how the exposure of truth in art happens:

"From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth... On the leather lie the dampness and richness of the soil. Under the soles slides the loneliness of the field-path as evening falls...this equipment is pervaded by uncomplaining anxiety as to the certainty of bread, the wordless joy of having once more withstood want, and trembling before the impending childbed and shivering at the surrounding menace of death. This equipment belongs to the earthy and it is protected in the world of the peasant woman." (p. 33)

The full text is available to download from the "Files" section.

The suggested reading is pages 31 - 38.

We're going to think through Heidegger's ideas of art and challenge their relevance to our experience of art in the world today.

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  • Jeryl

    For the masochists among us who can't get enough Heidegger; this is a fantastic lecture by Graham Harman on 'The Origin of the Work of Art': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luZb1FX92u8

    November 30, 2012

  • Jeryl

    While our attempts to retrieve the knowable from the essentially unknown "happening of truth" at work 'in' Van Gogh's peasant shoes was thwarted by the acoustic echo chamber known as the MET cafeteria; we did come to a somewhat vague and general consensus, that perhaps, art may not be entirely subjective after all, possibly. maybe.

    November 26, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    great meetup...looking forward to the next one

    November 25, 2012

  • Rob M.

    Hey Eran,
    Can you text me your number?
    In case I'm late, so I can find you all. Rob[masked]

    November 25, 2012

  • Jeryl

    “Truth happens in Van Gogh's painting. This does not mean that something is correctly portrayed, but rather that in the revelation of the equipmental being of the shoes, that which is as a whole—world and earth in their counterplay—attains to unconcealedness. Thus in the work it is truth, not only something true, that is at work. The picture that shows the peasant shoes, the poem that
    says the Roman fountain, do not just make manifest what this isolated being as such is—if indeed they manifest anything at all; rather, they make unconcealedness as such happen in regard to what is as a whole.”

    November 25, 2012

    • Jeryl

      “The more simply and authentically the shoes are engrossed in their nature, the more plainly and purely the fountain is engrossed in its nature—the more directly and engagingly do all beings attain to a greater degree of being along with them. That is how self-concealing being is illuminated. Light of this kind joins its shining to and into the work. This shining, joined in the work, is the beautiful. Beauty is one way in which truth occurs as unconcealedness.” P. 54

      November 25, 2012

  • Eran

    More on the strife between "world" and "earth" - the mode in which truth is happening in the artwork - on pages 43-47

    November 24, 2012

    • Jeryl

      Some more key passages on world and earth on p. 53-54: "To the Open there belong a world and the earth. But the world is not simply the Open that corresponds to clearing, and the earth is not simply the Closed that corresponds to concealment. Rather, the world is the clearing of the paths of the essential guiding directions with which all decision complies. Every decision, however, bases itself on something not mastered, something concealed,confusing; else it would never be a decision. The earth is not simply the Closed but rather that which rises up as self-closing."

      November 25, 2012

    • Jeryl

      “World and earth are always intrinsically and essentially in conflict, belligerent by nature. Only as such do they enter into the conflict of clearing and concealing. Earth juts through the world and world grounds itself on the earth only so far as truth happens as the primal conflict between clearing and concealing…. One of these ways in which truth happens is the work-being of the work. Setting up a world and setting forth the earth, the work is the fighting of the battle in which the unconcealedness of beings as a whole, or truth, is won.”

      November 25, 2012

  • Eran

    For a richer discussion about Heidegger's The Origin of the Work of Art, we're going to have this meetup at the Metropolitan Museum.

    We'll meet at the main stairway entrance at 2 pm, and head from there to the impressionists collection on the 2nd floor (galleries 820 - 830 in particular, where some of the discussed Van Gogh's works are shown).

    At 3 pm we'll start a conversation at the cafeteria on the Ground floor of the museum (there's only one cafeteria on that floor).

    If you can't make it to the paintings, join us for the meeting.

    I look forward to seeing you all!

    November 18, 2012

  • Jeryl

    “The essence of art consists … in the artist possessing the essential insight for the possible, for bringing the hidden possibilities of what-is into the work and thereby making human beings first able to see what that with which they blindly busy themselves really is.
    Heidegger (ET 47/GA34 63–4)
       
    They will never be able to understand what painting is. They cannot understand that the figure of a laborer – some furrows in a ploughed field, a bit of sand, sea and sky – are serious subjects, so difficult, but at the same time so beautiful, that it is indeed worthwhile to devote one’s life to expressing the poetry hidden in them.
    Vincent van Gogh (letter to Theo van Gogh, 9 August 1882)”

    Excerpt From: Thomson. “Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity.” Cambridge University Press

    1 · November 17, 2012

  • Christy

    I dunno what I did wrong but apparently the quay stuff is kinda scattered and I could only find one piece! All off by its lonesome on the first floor, too. BUT, as trite as it might sound, there WERE some takashi Miyazaki pieces that blew me away. My vote: Little angry people from a flat world in the bathroom; a munch featuring children in the living room. Brrrr.

    November 14, 2012

    • Christy

      November 15, 2012

    • Jeryl

      That's more than a "mild eye". Perhaps, it's time to cut down on the chocolate

      November 15, 2012

  • Jeryl

    I'm curious if anyone is interested in having a group meet up at the MET (or MoMA) prior to this meet up, to check out some 'real' Van Gogh's (as opposed to mere simulacrum), in all it's fleshy, painterly, workman-like glory? Reply here or message me..If there's enough people interested, perhaps, Eran might want to make it an "official" meet? (Note: MET is pay what you wish, while the MoMA is $20 admission)

    November 13, 2012

    • Jeryl

      Sunday at 3 works for me. Where shall we meet? In the modern art wing 2nd floor; where the Van Gogh's are? Great Hall? Stairway Entrance? http://www.metmuseum....­

      November 14, 2012

    • Jeryl

      Hey Rebecca, if this art + philosophy/theory field trip works out, maybe we can plan another one right before the Camus meetup at the MoMA and check out some artworks r/t to existentialism (Giacometti, Edvard Munch, Otto Dix and one of my absolute favs; Francis Bacon!) http://www.theartstor...­

      November 14, 2012

  • Rob M.

    Sounds good!

    November 14, 2012

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