THIS BOOK TOOK SHAPE out of my many years teaching philosophy to professional art students at the Columbus College of Art and Design. There I have had many discussions about what is happening in art, and the future direction of culture with the advent of the computer and television. From these discussions an understanding of the cultural evolution of visual art in all its forms began to emerge. I found that there was no book which really told the philosophy behind all of the visual arts that I could use as a text in my classes. This was the beginning of this book in the form of long handouts to my students which attempted to fill in the gap between what I wanted to teach and the available textbooks.
This book records the conclusions that I came to as I thought through the cultural evolution of each of the different sorts of visual art and tried to piece together their story from the perspective of philosophy. Chapter 1 discusses how culture shapes art to be what it is from the outside, like a mold shapes clay, and the great power of art to affect the way we think and to promote cultural change. Chapter 2 discusses the evolution of Fine Art from its birth in the Renaissance to its present old age and decline. Chapter 3 discusses the institutional structures that make art for popular taste its own sort of art, and the culture wars over censorship and whether public art should be Fine Art, or art for popular taste. Chapters 4 and 5 discuss the life histories of design and advertising.