Talk: “Exhibitions and Museums: When Are They Art?” at the Aesthetics Seminar, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University

Neues Museum, Berlin, copyright: Elisa Caldarola

On February 13th 2019, I will be giving a talk at the Aesthetics Seminar in the Department of Philosophy at Uppsala University, Sweden.

The title of the talk is “Exhibitions and Museums: When Art They Art?”.

Abstract: The claims that certain museum-exhibits and exhibitions are artworks or that they share significant resemblances with artworks are currently circulating in both art-theoretical and philosophical literature (see e.g. Carrier 2006; Hein 2006; Foster 2013; Ventzislavov 2014; Voorhies 2017). In the first part of my talk, I show how recent research on art-kinds and conventions in art-making (Lopes 2008; 2014; Xhignesse 2016; 2019 forthcoming) offers a framework for making sense of such claims. In the second part, I argue that some museum-exhibits and exhibitions are works of installation art.


Carrier, David (2006), Museum Skepticism. A History of The Display of Art in Public Galleries, Duke University Press.

Foster, Hal (2013), The Art-Architecture Complex, Verso.

Hein, Hilde (2006), Public Art. Thinking Museums Differently, Altamira Press.

Lopes, Dominic (2008), “Nobody Needs a Theory of Art”, The Journal of Philosophy, 105(3): 109-27.

Lopes, Dominic (2014), Beyond Art, Oxford University Press.

Ventzislavov, Rossen (2014), “Idle Arts: Reconsidering The Curator”, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 72: 83-93.

Voorhies, James (2017), Beyond Objecthood: The Exhibition as a Critical Form since 1968, MIT Press.

Xhignesse, Michel (2016), Attempting Art: an Essay on Intention-Dependence, PhD Thesis submitted to McGill University, Montreal.

Xhignesse, Michel (2019), “What Makes a Kind an Art-Kind?”,TheBritish Journal of Aesthetics, forthcoming.





Monday, 4 February 2019, Michel-Antoine Xhignesse (University of British Columbia), “What Makes a Kind an Art Kind?”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

The talk will be live-streamed and will remain available on YouTube. Remote participants can watch the live webcast and ask questions using the YouTube Live chat channel.

Update (06/02/2019): Unfortunately, we experienced a major problem with our internet connection and were unable to live-stream the whole talk. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Abstract: The premise that every work belongs to an art-kind has recently inspired a kind-centred approach to theories of art. Kind-centred analyses posit that we should abandon the project of giving a general theory of art and focus instead on giving theories of the arts. The main difficulty, however, is to explain what makes a given kind an art-kind in the first place. Kind-centred theorists have passed this buck on to appreciative practices, but this move proves unsatisfactory. I argue that the root of this dissatisfaction stems not from the act of kicking the can down the road, but from not kicking it far enough. The missing ingredient, I argue, is a notion of convention which does the work of marking the difference between art and non-art for a given physical medium.

Michel-Antoine Xhignesse is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses primarily on the ontology and meta-ontology of art, as well as on the problem of truth in fiction and the influence of authorial intent. His work has been published in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, the British Journal of Aesthetics, and the Journal of Social Ontology, as well as in two edited collections. He is co-editor of the ASA’s newsletter and co-organizer of the Salish Sea Aesthetics Workshop and the ASA’s eastern division meeting.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola, research budget: € 60.000).