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Grant number: FT-61561-14

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Sherri Irvin
University of Oklahoma, Norman (Norman, OK 73019-3003)

Immaterial: A Philosophy of Contemporary Art

Visual artworks are typically construed by philosophers as physical objects shaped through private acts of creation. In my book Immaterial: A Philosophy of Contemporary Art, under contract with Oxford University Press, I will argue that contemporary artworks are socially constructed entities with a unique ontology: they typically have a hybrid nature, with both material and normative elements. They are distinct from the usual examples of socially constructed entities increasingly recognized in metaphysics and are constructed through local rather than large-scale processes. I will discuss the ramifications for philosophers and viewers, as well as specific practical consequences for curators and conservators. I take an interdisciplinary approach, illustrating my argument through detailed case studies, interviews and archival research. The book will be written, designed and marketed to appeal both to an interdisciplinary academic audience and to a general audience of art appreciators.

Project fields:

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2014 – 7/31/2014