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The Nature of Artworks

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The Nature of Artworks


Reflecting on the varied types of artworks present us with a series of puzzles and questions about their nature. Intuitively, we distinguish between art forms that have a single instance, for example paintings and carved sculpture, and repeatable art forms that have many instances, such as pieces of music and novels. But whereas singular artworks are plausibly thought of as ordinary material objects (i.e. the painted canvas) repeatable, repeatable artworks seem to transcend any single material object or any collection of them. So what kind of thing are repeatable artworks and how are they related to the ordinary material world? Other questions include


  • Should we think of repeatable artworks as being discovered by artists or created  by them?
  • How do artworks change over time; what is the relation between these artworks and their different versions?
  • Why is it that some repeatable artworks (cast sculpture and etchings) can be forged in a way that others (literature and music) cannot?
  • What is the relation between a literary artwork and its translation? What is lost, if anything, in translation?
  • Do these questions have any import for the aesthetic value of artworks?




Dr Giulia Felappi

Professor Chris Janaway

Professor Aaron Ridley

Dr Lee Walters


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Course Date

20th May 2017

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