Rather than simply critique art, a philosopher of art attempts to determine the meaning of concepts such as expressivity and representation, providing conceptual foundations that art critics and the general public can utilize. The philosophy of art can be closely linked to aesthetics, or the philosophical study of beauty and taste. Oftentimes, artists may use their painting as a medium to communicate philosophical messages to their audience, demonstrating how art and philosophy can intersect under the wishes of the artists. Here are a few examples of art and philosophy constituting one another.

Maria Bussmann’s “Untitled” (2020)

In this piece, there are numerous trees and objects with philosopher’s names on them, such as Hegel, Kant, and Fichte. Bussmann is using this work as a commentary on the philosophical realm of thought known as German Idealism, which believes that nothing exists without the mind. “Kant” is German for “edge,” and Fichte means “spruce.” The abstract nature of the lines and the drawing as a whole is meant to signify the goal of German Idealism, uncovering roots without offering many specifics.

Dadaism (early 20th century)

An art movement that utilized art in order to reject the flaws of the modern capitalist society that was characterized by logic and reason. Their art then emphasized the exact opposite: irrationality and nonsense. In pieces like the “L.H.O.O.Q.”, or the painting that look likes the “Mona Lisa”, Dadaists attempted to surpass traditional boundaries of appropriation by presenting a reproduction as work of the art. This emphasized the defected nature of capitalism that always sought selfish, private ownership in their eyes.

Romanticism (early – mid 19th century)

This art movement emerged in reaction to the ongoing Industrial Revolution and Age of the Enlightenment. Its art pieces emphasized emotion as the source of authentic experience, praising nature as a means to achieve this spiritual connection. Individuals often became glorified in their work to exemplify the way in which the individual enabled freedom to flourish.

To find out more about Art and Philosophy, read the following books/articles:


But is it Art? by Freeland

Arguing About Art by Neill and Ridley

“Aesthetics is both politics and philosophy, a series of agreements and disagreements between subjective minds.” (Jimenez Lai)

“Aesthetics have substantial political consequences. How one views oneself as beautiful or not beautiful or desirable or not desirable has deep consequences in terms of one’s feelings of self-worth and one’s capacity to be a political agent.” (Cornel West)