A Unified Theory of Art: Making Sense of It All

a vital addition to the ongoing work of art and to the study of art history, since we can trace a work down the ages by the involvement of known colophonists. They were, and continue to be, indefinite joint-works potentially involving any future aesthete with access and sufficient confidence. When someone threw paint on Carl Andre’s bricks in the Tate Gallery or when Vladimir Umanets managed to scrawl a message on a Rothco in the Tate Modern (Vlad the Inscriber?), it was immediately hailed as vandalism, despite the latter’s claim that he was adding to the work of art not vandalizing it. He compared himself to Duchamp, rather missing the point that Duchamp owned the pissoir he transformed into art, and that in the Chinese tradition no one broke into another collector’s home and wrote all over his paintings. He either owned the work and added to it as a right or was invited by the owner to add to it because of his artistic credentials. But it is interesting to recognize the nascent impulse to direct response to art by a modern audience, even if they have signally failed to grasp it essence and subtleties. T he power of art in evolving consciousness is elegantly summed up by a quote from my friend Peter Suart, (who illustrated my book). He sent it to me as I was rewriting this for publication as part of an update on his own latest project in artistic communication: “The Poetic” is a state of being in which our heads and hearts and hands are aflame with meaning. For most of us this fire burns briefly. For some it burns doors down that open on strange lands that remain accessible. And perhaps for a few it becomes a permanent state of being. Whatever the form in which we experience the poetic, it exists, and is available. Spring 20167 • Issue No. 25 | 57 A Unified Theory of Art

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