Putting aside that Dutton's conclusions are still arguable, what myth is it that you think he debunked?
have you read the art instinct: beauty, pleasure and human evolution by denis dutton? in it, he does a pretty good job of debunking that myth. to grossly simplify (since i read it recently, but have yet to acquire my own copy to scribble in), his point is that in every culture, there are objects that are considered to be "art objects" because they are created by superior skilled artists. there are always examples that are, in fact, considered to be art precisely because of the degree of accomplishment/ skill involved in their making. it's a very interesting book in how it interrogates the idea of art, though particularly in western culture...
In many of these cultures, the line between monk and artist, craftsman and artist, devotee and artist are completely indistinguishable. It is really in our post-Enlightenment context, that thrives on distinctions between religion and everything else, that these questions can be asked. I wish organizations like CIVA would spend more time talking about how to shift Church culture away from these enlightenment delusions rather than trying to respond to them on their own terms.
perhaps 'debunk' is overstating (and, as i said, i don't have the book handy) but the idea i took from that particular discussion was that the analogy didn't hold as much as the idea within its culture. in other words, of course
the idea of Art/ art isn't the same in eastern cultures as it is in western culture. that said, within a culture, there are objects that are analogous in that they have a higher standing/ more reverence/ "weight". even in the examples already raised, aren't there specific examples that are considered more 'Art'? are there islamic calligraphic works or renditions that are considered more artful? are there shinto or hindu temples considered more artful (realized? i'm not even sure what language to use here)? then again, i suppose i interpret the phrase in question to refer to a specifically western art context.
and even then, i'm not sure i'm really bothered by the spiritual/ decorative contrast. while i don't think that just because we are spirit that everything we do is de facto spiritual, i do think that when we make work that addresses, connects, points toward truly human issues, experiences, questions that it can be spiritual. perhaps "spiritual" references some kind of connection to Truth. i interpreted decorative as having less to do with that impulse. something pleasant, perhaps more aesthetic, more about the elements of art rather than content (or that kind
of content). i guess we could tease things out - the decorative is about Beauty, which is a spiritual concept, etc. i do
think that skill (which may be physical/ technical but could also be conceptual) is an important element. that's why it's perhaps less of an either/or than placing things along a continuum. somehow i don't buy the idea that all art is 'spiritual', but that's me, holding on to my post-enlightenment binarisms.
of course, i wish that in contemporary western vulture there were
more of those "seamless arrangements between art and religious practice" - the way the experience of, and engagement with, art has often been separated from everyday life (kitsch notwithstanding) is one of my own personal questions. that would be cool. the problem is as much [art] systems as anything else, i think.
I am not sure which myth you are referring to, but I don't agree that he has debunked the idea that religious devotion generates art that is often marked by an excellence in craft in which we see this decoration/fine arts distinction dissolve. I am not the biggest fan of that book. It disregards the self-authentication process that marks the religious artist or craftsperson. Though I am more a fan of craft in art than I am concept in art, I don't like the way he has reduced art to a craft system which creates symbols that satiate a complex of psychological desires that are a side effect of evolutionary biology.
could you expand on the 'self-authentication process that marks the religious artist'? and for the record, the second half, where dutton moves much more directly into the evolutionary biology agenda, is much less interesting for me.
there a way for us to explore the spiritual/ decorative contrast/ inter-relationship fruitfully, and create bridges (or rhizomatic connections) between the ideas instead?
ps. i loved
the duchamp room in philly. and the twombly chapel. and the mondrian/ brancusi tagteam.
pps. i'm definitely going to check out vattimo - love the idea of oscillation. recommendations? and thanks for engaging with me on this.