Elisa Caldarola, “Improvisation and Installation Art”, forthcoming in “Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Improvisation in the Arts” (eds. A. Bertinetto and M. Ruta)

Sarah Sze, Triple Point – Planetarium, U.S. Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2013, photo: Elisa Caldarola

Abstract: This chapter illustrates through the analysis of some examples how philosophical research can illuminate the improvisational aspects of installation art. There is little philosophical research on improvisation in the visual arts.[1] Similarly, there is little philosophical research on installation art – in section 2, I mention some key claims that have been put forward.[2] Not surprisingly, then, philosophers have not yet focussed – at least to my knowledge – on improvisation in installation art. The issue, though, is timely. Not only some installation artists have explored improvisation in their practice, both solo and collaboratively (see section 3) but, as I shall argue, it can be claimed that some works of installation art represent or express improvisation (section 4), that some invite the public to engage in improvisation (section 5), and that curatorial teams responsible for the displays of certain installation artworks have the opportunity to introduce improvisational elements in their practice, if they so wish (section 6).

[1] For an introduction to improvisation in the arts see Bresnahan (2015). On improvisation in painting see Gilmour (2000), Sawyer (2000), Sansom (2001), Colaizzi (2007). On improvisation in cinema see Wexman (1980) and Sterrit (2000).

[2] On the aesthetic appreciation of installation art see Rebentisch (2012); on the ontology of installation art see Irvin (2013).


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