Art in Context — 2008

Understanding Aesthetic Value

By David E. W. Fenner

The various lenses—ethical, political, sexual, religious, and so forth—through which we may view art are often instrumental in giving us an appreciation of the work. In Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value, philosopher David Fenner presents a straightforward, accessible overview of the arguments about the importance of considering the relevant context in determining the true merit of a work of art.

Art in Context is a systematic, historically situated, and historically evidenced attempt to demonstrate the importance of considering contexts that will, in the vast majority of cases, increase the aesthetic experience. While focusing on distance, detachment, aestheticism, art for art’s sake, and formalism can at times be instructive and interesting, such approaches risk missing the larger and often central issue of the piece.

Based on the findings of philosophers and critics, and on artwork throughout history, Art in Context provides a solid foundation for understanding and valuing a work of art in perspective as well as within the particular world in which it exists.


David E. W. Fenner is dean of the Graduate School at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the author of The Aesthetic Attitude and Introducing Aesthetics and the editor of Ethics and the Arts and Ethics in Education.

A Swallow Press Book
Cover of 'Art in Context'

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Paperback978-0-8040-1105-1
Hardcover978-0-8040-1104-4

368 pages · 5½ × 8½

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Paperback  Exclusive: Worldwide

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