More Than Duck-Rabbits: 

Artists Paint Wittgenstein

Thomas E. Wartenberg

12th November, 2024

@ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Aout the Speaker

About the Speaker

Thomas E. Wartenberg

Mount Holyoke College of Massachusetts,, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

Thomas Wartenberg works at the intersection of philosophy and popular culture. His areas of research include the philosophy of film and aesthetics. He is considered one of the leading people in the US working on philosophy with children. A former Fulbright Research Fellow and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, Wartenberg was the winner of the 2011 APA/PDC Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs and the 2013 Merritt Prize for Distinguished Service to the Philosophy of Education. He is the author of Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children's Literature (Rowman and Littlefield), Thinking on Screen: Film as Philosophy (Routledge), and Thoughtful Images: Illustrating Philosophy Through Art (Oxford). He is film editor of Philosophy Now. 


The Seasons (Spring) 1987 Jasper Johns born 1930 Presented by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of Judy and Kenneth Dayton 2004

In the middle of the left-hand side of Jasper Johns’ painting, Seasons: Spring, there is a duck-rabbit, a clear allusion to Wittgenstein’s drawing in the Philosophical Investigations. Like many twentieth-century artists, Johns was fascinated by Wittgenstein’s philosophy and, in particular, of his discussion of seeing-as.

In my talk, I will discuss how artists in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries found inspiration in Wittgenstein’s writings and created works that illustrated his ideas and even, in some cases, presented visual arguments to support his view. No other philosopher, with the possible exception of Plato, had such an impact on visual arts. I shall explain why.


Available after the event


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