Conceptualization in the Visual Arts


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  • Title: Conceptualization in the Visual Arts: Another Epistemological Domain
  • Author(s): Luz del Carmen Vilchis Esquivel
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies
  • Keywords: Visual Arts, Epistemology, Conceptualization
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2015
  • ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Vilchis Esquivel, Luz del Carmen . 2015. "Conceptualization in the Visual Arts: Another Epistemological Domain." The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies 13 (2): 37-45. doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP/v13i02/43768.
  • Extent: 9 pages


The visual arts, marginalized from other areas of knowledge through the epistemological fragmentation fostered by positivism and the desire to respond to the rapid and complex development of new technologies, have lost touch with their most important task: reflection. Speculation about artistic action and delivery of critical judgments on its manifestations requires introspection and thinking about the processes and parameters of development involved. Imagi-nation and creation in the visual arts have become spontaneous reactions that arise from the intuition of the instant, neglecting important stages of concentration, abstraction, speculation, and transformation of esthetic experience. Today the arts provoke a chain of physical reactions—disgust, surprise, rejection, etc.—at transgressions of form, not of sub-stance: there is a chasm between thought and reason. The content for which Klee, Kandinsky, Arnheim, and Gombrich fought and which the work of Cézanne, Duchamp, and Beuys made comprehensible has been forgotten. It is a matter of reflecting on the importance of the epistemological domain in the visual arts, calling for a return to its conceptualization and rebuilding the philosophy and theory of the visual art of our time. These disciplines have a theoretical dimension related to the concepts that underpin them, a technical dimension concerned with the means by which the work or artistic action is produced, and a poetic dimension that establishes a link between the person who creates the artwork and those who perceive and view it, as well as among the latter themselves and between them and the artwork. An indispensable requirement for this task is the knowledge to recognize and understand both the surplus of meaning in the visual arts and the socialization of cultural values. Theoretical structures and concepts are essential, because the same object or action can give rise to different interpretations that are equally valid, as long as they are cognitively supported. The visual arts are an area of learning, a body of knowledge unified by certain principles, but not a set of closed truths; on the contrary, these truths are in a constant dynamic relationship with other cognitive areas, influencing some and being influenced by others. Conceptualization of the visual arts is valuable because it has a direct impact on the way of thinking, the behav-ior, the actions and the decisions of human beings, by virtue of being seen as generators of values and cultural assets.