Art and Aesthetics in Action
Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn


Frames of Arborvitae

Frames of Arborvitae
Frames of Arborvitae

Arborvitaes in my backyard have tiny cones and flattened branchlets with scalelike leaves. The leaves of all trees should be framed, a subject for aesthetics.

At least one leaf should be framed in each home where guests can see its beauty. Each leaf is a work of art.

Well, is Nature a work of art?

Arthur Danto, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and art critic for The Nation, says that there are no a priori limits on what can be a work of art.

 But not everything is a work of art.

Since we are aware that some things are not works of art, the philosophical problem for contemporary aesthetics is to explain what makes the difference. This problem becomes acute when we consider works of art that resemble, in all relevant particulars, some object that is not a work of art, such as Warhol’s Brillo Box. In this case it would be unreasonable to argue that such material differences as may exist between the artwork and the soap-pad packaging suffice to explain why the one is a work of art while its utilitarian look-alikes are not.

Danto argues that works of art are not just what the “artworld” decrees them to be. The boundaries of art keep dissolving with the development of society. He concludes, “to be art is to be internally connected with an interpretation, which means precisely identifying content and mode of presentation.” Here we find, he says, the “first steps in art criticism.”

When leaves are framed, they are “internally connected” for guests to judge.

Now the leaves will speak for themselves.

On the Road

Vincent (After himself)

A Peasant (After Vincent)

A Sea of Fire

Flying Colors

A Close Up

The Descent

A Quaker Arbor

The Horse on a Hill

Amaryllis Alone

Roses Rapping

Frames of Arborvitae

Good Morning

Lovers on the Farm

Bass Rocks at Gloucester

Satyagraha: A Meditation