Art and edge
The arts – especially the visual arts (painting, sculpture, film) but other arts as well (music, dance, theater) – concern edge. For edge is essential to form, and form (in whatever format) is basic to any artwork: as Plato and Kant first insisted, and as is still an emphasis in contemporary writings of Lyotard, Derrida, and Nancy. By "edge" I mean not just such saliencies as the physical frames that surround the edges of drawings and paintings, or the outer edges of the movie screen, or the contours of a sculpture, or the curtain on the dance stage. Each of these involves edges in direct and undeniable ways. But there are more subtle edge effects, and in this essay I shall explore them in detail after treating better known and more obvious uses of the edge. For edge figures into art in terms of certain cultural constraints, as on Danto's institutional theory of art. It also comes into play in Hegel's apocalyptic idea that art is coming to an end – that is, to its historical edge as an expression of Spirit. In contrast, the very idea of the "avant-garde" entails the idea of current art that is on the "cutting edge." More generally, accomplished artists are regarded as pushing their chosen medium to its extremity – to its outer edge. They create an original "style" that has a distinctive profile of its own that offers its own edge in contrast with other styles of the era.This essay is part of a larger project entitled The World on Edge. It will bring my ongoing research on edges (borders, boundaries, perimeters, margins) to bear on art. I shall focus on a selection of exemplary cases: e.g.., the early analytical Cubism of Picasso and the mature wood sculptures of Louise Nevelson. Each of these innovators pursued a given artistic genre to its limit and beyond. Each established edge in art in new and unanticipated ways.
Casey, E. (2012)., Art and edge: preliminary reflections, in J. Jansen (ed.), Critical communities and aesthetic practices, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 49-61.
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