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The Truth in Art: Vincent Van Gogh's Work of Art Essay

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Throughout his argument against aesthetics, Heidegger strongly states he believes in the true “work of art” and believes that this aesthetic approach goes against this. One artist that Heidegger particularly discusses is Vincent Van Gogh. He uses works of art by Van Gogh in order to give more power to his argument. Through works of art such as Van Gogh’s A Pair of Shoes, Heidegger makes his a distinction between artwork and things. In order to truly analyze the culture of another, he explains how it is essential for the viewer to question what is being depicted in the work and what the purpose may be. Heidegger describes art as a whole through the philosophies of existence and truth.
To truly interpret Heidegger’s critic of aesthetics, it is important to know his opinions of true works of art. He has a strong view on the importance art had in history: “Art is history in the essential sense that it grounds history. Art lets truth originate. Art, founding preserving, is the spring that leaps to the truth of what is, in the work”(Heidegger 75). To give an anecdote to his argument, Heidegger brings up an ancient Greek temple. He explains that it is the temple that first brings everyone together. The temple unifies the community through hardships and times of happiness. The temple primarily provides to things their expression and to the people of the temple, their viewpoint about themselves as a whole.

Heidegger believes that over time, the concept of human reality changes. He then explains that art shows this change and helps better explain this transformation of type and style. Great works of art have an impact on the human race during that time period: “…the bringing of work-being into movement and happening. This happens as pr...


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...complexity. Instead of seeing just a simple pair of worn shoes, he sees the story of a peasant who works in the fields daily. Heidegger does this by looking past the simplicity and discovering the revelation of what the pair of shoes is in truth. In order to find the full truth, the viewer must picture him or herself in the painting. As it reveals these important truths, the work of art must furthermore rely on the painting’s substance and being that is outside of that particular work of art itself. In closing, just as Heidegger stated in his argument against aesthetics: “The art work opens up in its own way the Being of beings. The truth of beings happens in the work. In the artwork, the truth of what is has set itself to work. Art is truth setting itself to work”(38).



Works Cited

Heidegger, Martin. Poetry, Language, Thought. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Print.


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