Figuring Out Figurative Art

Figuring Out Figurative Art is published by Routledge.

This collection of essays is edited by Damien Freeman and Derek Matravers, and has been published in partnership with the Directors of BREESE Little, a commercial art gallery in London.

  • To read about the book on the publisher’s website, click here.

Praise for Figuring Out Figurative Art

E. Denham, Times Literary Supplement:

“Writers who promote contemporary figurative painting bear a double burden. Not only must they illuminate the interest and importance of the particular works they admire, they must also persuade us that these works are more than degenerate gestures in a tradition that has had its day. The essays assembled here by Damien Freeman and Derek Matravers discharge this joint burden to good effect, while also doing a service to philosophy, showing that analytical skill and careful attention to details of phenomenology do not yield only abstruse, academic disputes.”

Tim Crane, Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge:

“This extraordinary book represents a new departure in philosophical writing about art. Art and philosophy have always been intertwined; but philosophers have often focused on a few well-known exemplars in particular genres. Because of this, their discussions can be vulnerable to what Wittgenstein called a main cause of philosophical disease: a restricted diet of examples. This unique book presents an alternative. Leading philosophers talk illuminatingly, in various dimensions, about a striking range of contemporary paintings. The resulting discussions are original, provocative and will appeal to anyone with an interest in contemporary art and aesthetics. A wonderful book.”

CHOICE Reviews:

“The discussion of each work is beautifully and intimately framed and not always the focus of the essay. At times, the works serve as entrée to a larger cultural discussion. Perhaps this is the inherent nature of art—to point beyond the work itself to the placement of the individual in society… Highly recommended.”

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism:

“[Various authors] succeed admirably in the difficult task of connecting their chosen artwork, in its specificity, to some larger idea or question… Without exception, they are all high-quality pieces of philosophical writing.”

About Figuring Out Figurative Art

In 1797, Friedrich Schlegel wrote, “What is called Philosophy of Art usually lacks one of two things: either the philosophy, or the art.” This new collection of essays contains both the philosophy and the art.

Leading philosophers contribute essays that address diverse philosophical issues raised by recent works of art. The works, executed in oil and acrylic paint on canvas and linen, Humbrol enamel on board, and pastel and graphite on paper, are reproduced in full colour, and reflect the variety of media employed by leading contemporary artists, including:

Figuring Out Figurative Art contains a collection of previously unpublished essays on topics ranging from political, ethical, and religious concepts, such as apathy and irony, to standard problems in the philosophy of art, such as expression, style, and depiction, as well as major movements in art history, such as Dadaism. Contributors include the following philosophers:

To read Freeman’s introduction to the volume, click here

Freeman, Sitting