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Speaking Through Silence: Conceptual Art and Conversational Implicature

By Robert Hopkins


I first try to identify what problem, if any conceptual art poses for philosophical aesthetics. It is harder than one might think to formulate some claim about traditional art with which much conceptual art is inconsistent. The idea that sense experience plays a special role in the appreciation of traditional artworks falls foul of literature. Instead I focus on the idea that conceptual art exhibits a particularly loose relation between the properties with which we engage in appreciating it and the properties on which those artistic properties depend.\ud \ud In Part II, I then offer an account of how conceptual art communicates, and attempt to use it to illuminate some prominent features of that art. I suggest it works by frustrating certain fundamental expectations with which we approach it. In this it is analogous to certain ways of indirectly communicating in conversation – certain kinds of conversational implicature. At the close, I ask whether this account allows us to address the problem identified in Part I

Publisher: OUP
Year: 2007
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