Are contemporary art theorists and critics speaking a language that has lost its meaning? Is it still based on concepts and values that are long out of date? Does anyone know what the function of the arts is in modern society? This title situates these issues within the long-running debate about the arts and their place in society that goes back to the classical period in ancient Greece. "The Necessity of Artspeak" shows that what have usually been considered problems of aesthetics and artistic justification often have their source in the linguistic assumptions underlying the terms and arguments presented. It also shows how artspeak is manipulated to serve the interests of particular social groups and agendas. Until the semantics of artspeak is more widely understood, the public will continue to be taken in by the latest fads and fashions that propagandists of the art world promote.
Roy Harris is Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Oxford and editor of the journal Language & Communication. His many publications include The Language Myth and Rethinking Writing.