PDC Homepage

Home » Products » Purchase

Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 19, Issue 2, 2019

Philosophy of Art

David Davies
Pages 193-215

Making Sense of ‘Popular Art’

The aims of this paper are twofold: first, to identify a sense of ‘popular art’ in which the question, ‘can there be popular art?’ is interesting and the answer to this question is not obvious; second, to propose and defend a challenging but attractive answer to this question: challenging in that it draws some distinctions we might not initially be inclined to draw, and attractive in offering a productive way of thinking about the ontology, epistemology, and axiology of the kinds of artifacts proposed as examples of ‘popular art’. I take the ‘interesting’ question to be whether, given a way of distinguishing artworks from other kinds of artifacts, there can be artworks that meet the conditions set out by Noel Carroll for what he terms ‘mass art’. I sketch a way of thinking about the distinction between artworks and other artifacts—what I term the neo-Goodmanian approach—and then explore the implications of the neo-Goodmanian approach for the existence of ‘popular art’, and vice versa. In so doing, I subsume these issues under a more general problem for the neo-Goodmanian—what I term the problem of ‘fast art’. I argue that, while the neo-Goodmanian can embrace artworks that are ‘popular’ in the sense of being targeted at a wide audience, she should insist that there cannot be artworks that meet all of Carroll’s requirements for being ‘mass art’.