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Aesthetics of Popular Art

David Novitz

in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199279456
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199279456.003.0044

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Aesthetics of Popular Art

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Questions about the aesthetic value and appreciation of popular art have only recently become an area of interest to Anglo-American aesthetics. This is curious, for the distinction between high and popular art — like that between high and popular culture, and between avant-garde art and mass art — is a familiar and longstanding one frequently drawn by critics, philosophers, and cultural theorists throughout the course of the twentieth century. It was extensively discussed by Marxist thinkers like Walter Benjamin, and was the stock-in-trade of the Critical Theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Not just those two, but high-modernist philosophers and critics like R. G. Collingwood, Clement Greenberg, and Dwight MacDonald also made much of the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ (or popular) art. Even so, it was a distinction that did not earn the serious attention of philosophical aesthetics until the penultimate decade of the twentieth century.

Keywords: aesthetic value; popular art; Anglo-American aesthetics; avant-garde art; mass art; philosophical aesthetics

Article.  7092 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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