Beginning at the end, in the long shadows cast by the death of art and the decline of humanities, let us rethink the relationship between art and man. It's a fraught relationship. After introducing himself in the first of the Ten Commandments, god turns against art, at least “graven images” in the second. Now we live in an age where art may be dead, but images rule: it seems both God and man lost the very thing each wanted.
God and man “dwell poetically” in an intelligible space, which we, by valorizing the artist, have shattered. For art to live, (and we desperately need art to live by and live for) the spirit must become mortal. But by living in art, we also experience immortality.
We will selectively trace a path back to Homer, using the “epic” to interrogate whether art consists of “images” made by human hands, or whether art itself is the creator of people, heroes, culture. Homer gives us a theory of art which 2000 years of religion based interpretation has hidden from our eyes and to adjust for this dominant interpretation, we will look at another Epic, the Mahābhārata of ancient India for insight.
We'll look to the ancients in order to explore where we now stand with the question of art as raised by Marcel Duchamp - can there be an essential definition of art that lasts throughout history?