Research Article

The Problem of Intentionality in the Contemporary Visual Arts



The discourse regarding intentionality and interpretation in analytic philosophy of art, although ample and lively, has concerned itself almost exclusively with the literary medium. Starting from a paper published by Hans Maes, I discuss the complications that may arise in straightforwardly applying current intentionalist strategies to the realm of the contemporary visual arts. I first present a detailed account of the difference between hypothetical intentionalism and moderate actual intentionalism which will help to better understand the nature of Maes’s arguments in his paper. I then argue that the characteristics which shape the approach of moderate actual intentionalism cannot be accommodated by certain contemporary visual artworks. I will demonstrate how in certain contemporary artworks, should a viewer be interested in accepting actual intentions within her interpretation, she will have to do so with an extreme intentionalist posture rather than a moderate actual one.
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 56 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 186-205
  • DOI: 10.33134/eeja.188
  • Published on 1 Sep 2019
  • Peer Reviewed