Martin Heidegger – What is Art?

Portrait of Philosopher Martin HeideggerMartin Heidegger was a famous German philosopher from the early to mid 20th Century.  His philosophical views were largely based on investigating not what it mean to be a being, but what being in itself means.  He believed that all of the questions which philosophy had attempted to answer over the preceding 2,000 years were about all the beings which could be found in the world, but that no one had bothered to question what “being” itself implicated.  Heidegger believed that philosophy got started on the wrong foot and as a result, most of the discoveries made in philosophy were erroneous.

Julian Beever and his Work - BatmanHis views on art took the approach that a work of art not only defined the way that a culture understands art, but it actually creates that same truth to a degree.  The truth, which a work of art represents, will actually become the way that a society will understand that truth.  Furthermore, at any time that an artist introduces a new work of art into society, the entire definition of truth behind the meaning of existence is slightly changed.

Heidegger believed that both artworks and the artist could not exist without each other.  While artworks would not exist without an artist, it was the work itself, which made one into an artist.  At the same time, art itself was something, which is separate from both artworks and artists.  The concept of art is something, which needed to be understood to appreciate artworks, but without artworks, the concept of art did not exist.  Heidegger fully explained that his beliefs were a paradox, which could not be appropriately answered, but that his responsibility was in describing the riddle.

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