Two overlapping blue and yellow heads.

Philosophy Mixed: Philosophy and Art

By Nick Williams

From the Texas State Department of Philosophy and KTSW, welcome to Philosophy Mixed; the podcast series exploring philosophy and the nature of things. This session examines the intersection of philosophy and the visual arts.

This summer of 2018, amidst a volatile social environment here in the United States, we want to take some time to reflect and discuss the arts as endeavors that make our social struggles and challenges worthwhile. With this podcast we turn to visual arts, inquiring about the fundamental dynamics of this charmed aesthetic force.

As we do on Philosophy Mixed, we would like to introduce this podcast on art with a philosophical tone. Published in 1934, John Dewey’s “Art as Experience” remains relevant when thinking about art today. To begin our discussion, we reflect on what Dewey wrote:

“Because objects of art are expressive, they are a language. Rather they are many languages. For each art has its own medium and that medium is especially fitted for one kind of communication. Each medium says something that cannot be uttered as well or as completely in any other tongue. The needs of daily life have given superior practical importance to one mode of communication, that of speech. This fact has unfortunately given rise to a popular impression that the meanings expressed in architecture, sculpture, and music can be translated into words with little if any loss. In fact, each art speaks an idiom that conveys what cannot be said in another language and yet remains the same.”


Facilitators: Rebecca Farinas, Texas State Department of Philosophy; Nick Williams, KTSW Podcast Producer

Guests: Margo Handwerker, Texas State Galleries; Jeffrey Dell, Texas State School of Art and Design; Anthony Cross, Texas State Department Philosophy. A special thanks to Kimberly Clay (KTSW) for her help with the session.

For more information take a look at the following publications:


Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Prism Key Press, 2010) originally published 1936.

Arthur Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (Cambridge, Mass., London England, Harvard University Press, 1981).

John Dewey, Art as Experience (Penguin Group, N.Y., N.Y., 1934).

David Hickey, Invisible Dragon Essays on Beauty (Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Works of Art

Julie Green, The Last Supper Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates, see

Philip Guston, City Limits, 1969, 6’5” x 8’71/4′ (195.6 x 262.2 cm), Oil on Canvas, New York, New York: Museum of Modern Art.

Corita Kent, Extra Los Angeles Times Eight Men Slain Guard Moves In, 1969, 35” x 23”, Seriagraph, Los Angeles, California: The Corita Art Center.

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