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Postmodern Theory in Art Essay

Philosophy refers to the search for truth, existence, knowledge and performance through sense and rationale. Philosophy attempts to study the nature of existence, soundness, impartiality, beauty, mind and language. Art on the other hand refers to the process of arranging elements in a creative manner that makes them appealing to the senses and the emotions. Art includes performance which involves the use of language. The artist Paul McCarthy, born in 1945 in Salt Lake City, learned his art skills at the University of Utah in the year 1969.

On his further studies at San Francisco art institute, he studied painting and went further to study film, video and art at the University of Southern California. McCarthy majors his work in video and sculpture having taught performance, video, installation and performance art history at the University of California (Bronfen 214). McCarthy in his works institutes color as a central theme in his story of modern and contemporary work. McCarthy’s life and art works are connected to the practice centered on the role of artists within the cultures and the system of art.

In his works he proves a bit of a chocker. The use of language and descriptions of all the American culture that he grew up with, he works towards bending and transforming the familiar into the disturbing. The works of McCarthy definitely removes the dark side of the American dream and presents a selection of postmodern works produced between 1966 and 2006. The philosophies of Kierkegaard involved a unifying factor which evolved around three spheres of existence, which is the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious choice in constant tension.

According to Kierkegaard the personal aesthetic enjoyment is in the inconsistent search of pleasure which is self-centered. Comparing the artist Paul McCarthy to this philosophy, it is clear that the philosophy involved beauty and pleasure which is mainly egocentric just like the work of McCarthy which involves the provision of pleasurable activities, through performance and beautiful paintings (Robert & Adorno 132). The ethical sphere however is not egocentric but impersonal. It involves a law centered on reasoning as opposed to personal inclination and expediency.

Kierkegaard asserts that at this stage, life does not just involve a succession of separate moments of pleasure but is a long range venture which should be structured according to rational principles. The principles according to Kierkegaard’s philosophies do not only include the rules of eventual interest but the conceptual ideologies of morality that describe what an individual should do. Just like Kierkegaard’s ideals, in McCarthy’s attempts to reduce the disadvantages of painting, he resorted to using the body as a canvas.

He later involved the use of bodily fluids and foods to act as surrogates in his work. Other than painting the work of McCarthy included transgressive presentation art, psychosexual events which were meant to test the emotions of both the artist and the viewer. McCarthy in his works was known for shocking, sexually charged pieces that feature benign cartoon and pop culture characters reflecting the ideologies of morality which teaches the viewers and the artist on what they should do (Glennie 34).

Much of the works of Kierkegaard looks into religious premises like the faith in God, the organization of the Christian church, the Christian ethics and divinity and the emotions and feelings of different people when dealing with the choices of life. Kierkegaard remained the most influential figure in modern philosophy’s consideration just like McCarthy who remained the most influential artist in the postmodern artistry. Kierkegaard believed and insisted on individual rather than collective responsibility before God.

In the stage of true religious choice, only a leap of faith that provides a ground for decision is employed, however there are no automatic rational decision procedures. According to the philosophy of Kierkegaard, acknowledgment of the need for religion as a personal dedication to truth is the major component of life. Relating to this principle of Kierkegaard, McCarthy centers his interest within the daily activities of life and the confusion created by such activities. Due to misinformation by people, McCarthy has been taken to be influenced by the Viennese Actionism.

Due to his dedication to truth as his life component, McCarthy clarifies that he knew the activities of the group in the 1970s but there exists a big difference between the self deleterious activities of the Viennese and his own performances. This is a reflection that as Kierkegaard’s principle of individual responsibility to God, McCarthy obeys the same principle and would therefore not engage in the injurious activities of the Viennese (Ben 56). The view of Kierkegaard on the free press can be understood on why he hated the press.

He was mainly concerned on the public sphere which had been a source of problem for many intellectuals in the middle of the 18th century before the democratization and the expansion of the press. In his view to the free press, Kierkegaard abandoned the use of internet with the claims that it promoted risk free ambiguity and idle curiosity that undermined responsibility and dedication. Kierkegaard’s opposition to the press is said to have had sociological, political and psychological motivations.

He however claims that he does not attack the press because of the liberalism or any other political reason. As has been noted earlier, the works of Kierkegaard mainly revolved around religious issues. His view was therefore opposing free press because he believed that the press and especially the daily newspaper were making Christianity and religious matters impossible. Definitely from his political, sociological and psychological qualms, he considered the press as a threat to both cultural and religious practices.

Because of these reasons Kierkegaard continued to attack the public and the press up to 1846 in his writings. With the democratization of the public sphere by the daily press, Kierkegaard felt that the public sphere was becoming a new and a dangerous cultural experience whereby the ranking created by the press was to produce something that was very wrong right from the beginning. In the modern society Kierkegaard gives his total view on the relation of the press, public sphere and the ranking taking place in his time.

He considers the press mysterious and desituated with no obsession and dedication and combines in this philosophical age to produce the public. The ideals and the philosophies of Kierkegaard strongly affected the theologians and the existential philosophy. Even though Kierkegaard was a very strong defender of religious faith he was an unhappy, neurotic and a terribly suffering man (Ben 356). His belief was that the best way to disclose truth was through dramatic confrontation of conflicting practices to life.

In addition to his ideals and philosophical works, Kierkegaard was a thinker and a genius. His philosophy despite having not been presented in a systematic and analytical manner, contain several wealth of sharp intellectual insights. Due to lack of coherent stance, the philosophies of Kierkegaard have remained questionable. Nevertheless according to Kierkegaard, his principles have been mainly on how one can become a Christian. Other than his philosophical work, Kierkegaard had complex poetic work which rewards careful reading.

The totals of moral of his philosophy can be put into a single sentence that the existence of human beings needs real passion and thought. Conclusion Art and philosophy may be two different disciplines, but still some principles or morals of an artist and a philosopher may relate in some way. The revealed example is between the artist Paul McCarthy and the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. The ideals and the philosophies of Soren Kierkegaard match the artist Paul McCarthy for instance, both of them seems to value aesthetics, ethical values and religious choices and issues.


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