Remembering Arthur Danto and the “end of art”

Arthur C. Danto, a celebrated art critic and philosopher, died on October 25th in New York. Danto was Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Columbia University and served as The Nation’s art critic from 1984 to 2009.

Danto famously once declared the “end of art.”  While some have taken his controversial declaration to mean that people in the post-modern era are no longer making art, or at least good art, Danto was in fact a great defender and champion of today’s art.  In declaring the end of art, Danto signaled the end of a particular Western narrative of art and the beginning of a new way of making and thinking about art:


Over the course of his storied career, Danto authored 30 books, including the landmark Beyond the Brillo Box and After the End of Art. Yale University Press is honored to be the publisher of three of Danto’s books, Tom Friedman (2008), Andy Warhol (2010) and most recently What Art Is (2013). You can read about what What Art Is here on our blog.

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Praised in 2005 by The New York Times’s Barry Gewen as an “erudite and sophisticated observer,” Danto wrote with a “forcefulness and jargon-free clarity” that engaged not only the art world but those who stood outside of the art world.  Among numerous warm tributes that have appeared in print over the past month, Danto has been fondly remembered by Ken Johnson in the New York Times and Morgan Meis in n+1.

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