Extracurricular  /  Seminars

What is the ‘End of Art’?

Saturday, 19 February, 8:00 – 10:00pm

In the 1980s, Hans Belting and Arthur Danto concurrently proclaimed, unbeknownst to one another, the end of art and the termination of art history. Years later, Danto would suggest that this was no coincidence because they had simultaneously stumbled upon a fundamental historical truth that demarcated the contemporary era from the preceding centuries: art had indeed come to an end.

Pursuing the Machete Group's interest in the historical frames used to situate the present moment, we will critically interrogate the idea of an end of art and of art history. Drawing from examples in the visual arts and music, we will begin by unpacking the notion of the “end of art” and the idea that there is an “end of history.” The discussion, which will be run by Avi Alpert and Gabriel Rockhill, will then focus on the following questions: has art history really come to an end? Are we living in a post-historical era and, if so, what would that mean? Why is there still art after the supposed “end of art”?

01. Hans Belting, “Postmodernism or Posthistory?”

02. John Cage, “Indeterminacy.”

03. Arthur Danto, “The End of Art.” 1

04. Arthur Danto, “The End of Art.” 2

05. Branden Joseph on John Cage

The Machete Group organizes workshops, mini-seminars, reading groups, screenings and other events open to the public that have as their general focus the intersection between artistic practice and its theoretical articulation. The guiding proposition of the Machete Group is the claim that practice without theory is empty and theory without practice is blind. The goal of the center is to engender a rigorous and open atmosphere outside a strictly academic context that encourages autodidacticism, a willingness to question all forms of mastery and specialization, and the desire to think critically about artistic practice in an historically, socially and politically astute manner.

The Machete Group is an international consortium of artists and intellectuals based at Marginal Utility Gallery in Philadelphia. The Group runs the magazine Machete, offers seminars on current issues in the arts, and is invested in developing new collective forms of artistic and intellectual practice. Its members include Avi Alpert, David Dempewolf, Etienne Dolet, Ludwig Fischer, Alexi Kukuljevic, Holly Martins, Gabriel Rockhill, Theodore Tucker, and Yuka Yokoyama.

The Machete Group seminars are monthly workshops on current issues in the arts run by Alexi Kukuljevic, Gabriel Rockhill and Avi Alpert (as of fall 2010).