Into the Light of Things: The Art of the Commonplace from Wordsworth to John Cage

George J. Leonard, Author University of Chicago Press $24.95 (268p) ISBN 978-0-226-47252-2
John Cage's chance musical compositions and Andy Warhol's Brillo pads evince a distrust of the special status of the art object. Their rebellion against the separation of art and life has antecedents, according to Leonard, in the anti-art sentiments of Wordsworth, Ruskin, Carlyle and Emerson. Wordsworth declared art to be ``but a handmaiden'' in our quest for transcendence through immersion in the everyday. Emerson called paintings ``hypocritical rubbish'' that distracted us from ``eternal art''--the life around us. San Francisco State University humanities professor Leonard argues that, beginning around 1800, a new religious intellectual orientation, ``natural supernaturalism,'' sought human perfection via appreciation of natural beauty and the commonplace. His highly stimulating, impassioned, demanding study engages theorists from Plato to Arthur Danto as it traces this current from Wordsworth through Whitman to Italian Futurists, Cage and conceptual and environmental artists. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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Paperback - 268 pages - 978-0-226-47253-9
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