The Art Question, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


If an artist sends a live peacock to an exhibition, is it art? 'What is art?' is a question many of us want answered but are too afraid to ask.

It is the very question that Nigel Warburton demystifies in this brilliant and accessible little book.

With the help of varied illustrations and photographs, from Cezanne and Francis Bacon to Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, best-selling author Warburton brings a philosopher's eye to art in a refreshing jargon-free style.

With customary clarity, he explains art theories, that are much discussed but little understood, by thinkers such as Clive Bell, R.G Collingwood and Wittgenstein.

He illuminates other perplexing problems in art, such as the artist's intention, representation and emotion.

Drawing on photographs of Cindy Sherman and Tiananmen Square, Warburton shows that, if we are ever to answer the art question, we must consider each work of art on its own terms.

A stimulating and handy guide through the art maze, The Art Question is essential reading for anyone interested in art, philosophy or those who simply like looking at and thinking about pictures.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160 pages, 12 colour photographs, 7 b&w photographs, index
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Theory of art
  • ISBN: 9780415174909

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I'd first heard about this via Warburton's Philosophy Bites. Its a well written and concise book exploring some recent attempts at answering what art actually IS. I felt mildly disappointed that the book didn't give me a definitive answer, but actually Warburton does a very good job of explaining why its probably an impossible question in the first place.