The Necessity of Artspeak (2003)

   •Roy Harris

Hardcover: 224 pages
ISBN: 0826460798

Are contemporary art theorists and critics speaking a language that has lost its meaning? Is it still based on concepts and values that are long out of date? Does anyone know what the function of the arts is in modern society? This book breaks new ground in its linguistic approach to the key issues. It situates them within the long-running debate about the arts and their place in society, going back to the Classical period in ancient Greece. Contributors to this debate include some of the most celebrated artists and philosophers of their day: Plato, Aristotle, Leonardo, Kant, Hegel, Wagner, Baudelaire, Zola, Delacroix... But none of these eminent figures or their supporters provided a reasoned overview examining the multilingual development of Western artspeak as a whole. Nor did they develop any explicit account of the relationship between the arts and language, as The Necessity of Artspeak aims to do.

– ‘few can be better qualified to pronounce the funeral relation over the corpse’: Laura Gascoigne in The Jackdaw


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© Roy Harris, Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics, Oxford, 2010-2015