Carnegie Library of Trinidad, Colorado

Virtual Programs

Philosophy Café 

A monthly discussion about things philosophic.

Join us for the next meeting on Monday evening, August 9th at 5:00. The topic is: Who is the artist?

It may seem a simple question, when experiencing a work of art, to ask, "who is the artist?" We'll try to examine why the answer to this question is not so simple, especially in this age of easy reproducibility.

Susanne, the driving force behind Philosophy Café, suggested this month’s topic: Who is the artist, who is the maker of a work of art? What defines the maker from other participants, and from the audience? She suggested an excerpt from an article dealing with the philosophy of film. Skip to paragraph 3, “Film and Authorship.”:

Film, theatre, music and most forms of dance are definitely good examples of the "who is the artist" question. Painting and sculpture, at first glance, seem to be individual creations, but sculptures are not possible without, for example, workers in stone quarries, or bronze fabricators. And painters use paints created by experts in the field of paint-making, and people who create paper and canvas. That's all one aspect of the question. The other is the question of the audience. One thought is that the viewing audience, including the professional audience (gallery owners, critics) decides, in very intricate and peculiar ways, what is great art. And what is great art in one period of time, for one particular society, may become trite or ridiculous for another society, or in a future time period.

Sky, an attendee from last month’s Café suggested a 1936 article by Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”:

This subject may come up in our discussion, and a lot has changed since 1936 in this age of trillions of photos and billions of videos.

A slight tangent—two films poking fun at film production: 1992’s The Player “by” director Robert Aultman, and What Just Happened, “by” director Barry Levinson. Both also “by” hundreds of other people, from gaffer assistants to producers.

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