color Beyond Kandinsky: Session III: Art and Its Audience

The year 2011 marks the centennial of the publication of Wassily Kandinsky's classic text, On the Spiritual in Art. Inspired by this anniversary, this project set out to explore the place of the spiritual in contemporary art and to propose a challenge to the current devaluation of the inner life that prevails within the art world in our market-driven era.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, a ten-day virtual symposium moderated by Taney Roniger and Eric Zechman was held in this forum. The symposium closed on the evening of Friday, April 8th. Below is the full record of the proceedings.

Panelists invited to participate were: Suzanne Anker, Laura Battle, Connie Beckley, Anney Bonney, Deirdre Boyle, Nathaniel Dorsky, Jeff Edwards, James Elkins, Max Gimblett, Tom Huhn, Atta Kim, Roger Lipsey, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Nechvatal, Daniel Siedell, Charlene Spretnak, David Levi Strauss, Alan Wanzenberg, and Pawel Wojtasik. For participant biographies and other project details, please visit our site:


March 30th–April 1st: Session I: The Spiritual Then and Now

April 2nd–April 3rd: Session II: The Changing Shape of Art

April 4th-5th: Session III: Art and Its Audience

April 6th–April 7th: Session IV: The Artist in Society

April 8th: Conclusions


Session III: Art and Its Audience

Art and Its Audience

The session questions are intended to provide a loose framework for the discussion and to catalyze dialogue. Participants are welcome to respond to any of them in whatever way they see fit and to pose questions of their own as they arise.

(1) What is the current role of experience in the making and beholding of art? Has aesthetic experience been displaced by the current practices of interpretation, “decoding,” identifying references, etc?

(2) Is there a relationship between synaesthesia and the “immersive experiences” of today’s multi-media and interactive art? What might the rise of these immersive forms say about the role and status of the body in an emerging worldview?

(3) What role might there be for art criticism in providing new interpretive frameworks that include room for the recognition of the spiritual in art?

(4) Is it time to replace “the viewer” with a designation less mired in the Modernist ethos of objectivity, distance, “disinterestedness,” etc.? If so, what might some alternative terms be?

(5) How might a different understanding of the experiential or spiritual value of art pose a challenge to the current emphasis on monetary value endemic to our market-based system?