From Van gogh's museum to the Temple at bassae: Heidegger's truth of art and Schapiro's art history

Abstract

This essay revisits Meyer Schapiro’s critique of Heidegger’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s painting of a pair of shoes in order to raise the question of the dispute between art history and philosophy as a contest increasingly ceded to the claim of the expert and the hegemony of the museum as culture and as cult or coded signifier. Following a discussion of museum culture, I offer a hermeneutic and phenomenological reading of Heidegger’s ‘Origin of the Work of Art’ and conclude by taking Heidegger’s discussion of the strife between earth and world to the site of the ancient temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae as an example of the insistent foreclosure of the ancient work of art and the conflicts of the pervasive efforts of modern conservation.

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Babette Babich
Fordham University

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