By GABRIEL ROLFE
“Art as Knowledge?”, a discussion held at the London School of Economics last week, was the latest instalment in its now-twenty-year-old Forum for European Philosophy. The intellectual component in art, the climate of art’s reception and the social standing of the artist were all touched on, suggesting just how fertile this question is – even if the speakers kept their distance from an answer.
In the early Renaissance, painter and sculptor fought for inclusion in the so-called liberal arts. The theoretical writings of Leon Battista Alberti and Lorenzo Ghiberti gave unprecedented attention to the intellectual and inter-disciplinary knowledge required of the artist, which included philosophy and mathematics. In Leonardo da Vinci’s writings, we find the first exaltation of a unique knowledge belonging to the artist: the understanding of perspective. But the purview of this evening’s discussion was emphatically modern.