Hegel’s ‘End’ of Art and Arte Povera

Di Andrea Piras

In: Hegel’s Philosophy of Art XLV , No. 1-2 ( 2016 )

Sezione Saggi / Articles

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«Art commits an act of suicide»: this is Osmaston’s translation of Hegel’s famous phrase «Kunst selbst sich aufhebt». Hegel’s puzzling claim has been interpreted in many different ways by commentators. This article represents an attempt to challenge the traditional reading of the ‘end of art’ thesis as disappearance or suicide and puts forward an alternative interpretation of it which would involve not only a new beginning of art after its «dissolution» but also a radical shift in its long-established function. This mutation would consist in the transition from a mainly religious representational function of art (art-religion) to a critical-reflective role for it (art-philosophy): after its ‘end’, art would become the sensory counterpart of philosophy, a constant challenge for conceptual thought. My aim is also to clarify how my reading of Hegel’s ‘end’ of art may represent an attempt to establish a connection between Hegel’s aesthetics and some of the most interesting expressions of contemporary art. Indeed, I have tried to understand some of the most striking works of Arte Povera as concrete examples of what art after its «dissolution» may look like.