Modern art history as a human science in a situation of cultural turn

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Intensive development of knowledge in the 20th century, including the emergence of new sciences and humanities, constantly creates a problematic situation in the sphere of art, shifting art’s designation to what in the philosophy of science is known as “normal science”. This is associated with the idea of art as a science that has reached a stage of maturity and consistency and, therefore, complies with its norms. The concept of art as “normal science” is characterized by a certain degree of conservatism, as it presupposes art’s self-protection against deviations from the established methodology.

However, sometimes the artistic processes of modernity require different approaches. In addition, the emergence of new humanities shifts the already established methodology of art. This happened in the first decades of the 20th century, in the era of a linguistic turn in the humanities, indicating the invasion of natural sciences in the humanities; and this is happening today, at the turn of the 21st century, in a situation of a cultural turn, the emergence and intensive development of the science of culture. The current turn requires a deeper understanding of the structure and components of art history, i.e., its sub-disciplines: art history, art theory and art criticism.

The essay argues that in the situation of cultural turn the theory of art can carry out functions which the other two sub-disciplines cannot. It propounds that art theory is able to make a decisive contribution to the elucidation of two problems: the relationship between art and cultural studies and the problem of historical time, which is important both for contemporary art and for art history.

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Khrenov Nicolai A.

Doctor of Sciences (Philosophy), Professor, Section of Media Artistic Problems

State institute of Cultural Studies
, Вильгельма Пика, 3

Author for correspondence.


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