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Dewey’s Art as Experience and Socially Grounded Art Practices: Duchamp to Contemporary Relational Aesthetics

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John Giordano
Union Institute & University
United States

This paper explores the relationship between John Dewey’s hope for renewed aesthetic experience in everyday life and socially grounded twentieth century French avant-garde art praxis and philosophy. I contend that Art as Experience misses the contemporaneous anti-art experiments of Dadaism--art that challenged the very divisions between fine art and everyday experience that Dewey eschewed. I show how art from Duchamp to current Relational Aesthetic practices both overlap with and diverge from Dewey’s notion of aesthetic experience. Although Dewey would likely not have recognized this work as exemplary of his conception of aesthetic experience, recent art embodies many shared impulses with Dewey’s commonplace aesthetic engagement, and in doing so proposes a reconciliation of the division between art and life.


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