Against Aesthetic Exceptionalism

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Arne De Boever

Here, Arne De Boever proposes the notion of aesthetic exceptionalism to describe the widespread belief that art and artists are exceptional. Against Aesthetic Exceptionalism challenges that belief by focusing on the sovereign artist as genius, as well as the original artwork as the foundation of the art market. Engaging with sculpture, conceptual artwork, and painting by emerging and established artists, De Boever proposes a worldly, democratic notion of unexceptional art as an antidote to the problems of aesthetic exceptionalism.

Background: Becky Kolsrud, Heads

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    Compression and Fragmentation

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    Compression and Fragmentation Sculptures

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    Nude at a Mirror (Sally)

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    Reclining Nude

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    Female Nude Rear View

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    Mrs. Carl Meyer and Her Children


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    Excerpt from “Pedestrian at Best,” performed by Courtney Barnett, written and composed by Courtney Barnett, published by Third Side Music, used by permission.

    Portions of chapters 2 and 4 previously appeared in a different form in “Art and Exceptionalism: A Critique,” boundary 2 45, no. 4: 161–81; used by permission of Duke University Press.

    Copyright 2019 by Arne De Boever
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    University of Minnesota Press
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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    Arne De Boever
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