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Kathryn A. McFadden, IDSVA





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What happens when someone confronts a work of art—the inexplicable connection to something brought into the world by an artist? Might we call this moment love? If so, how does this love differ from other loves, like eros or philia? Love originating in the interconnectedness of viewer, artwork and artist resists conventional positions; art is in fact a philosophy of love in action. I argue the primary action for love in art is thinking. Thinking about art is a manifestation of love when the viewer is overcome by wonder when contemplating a work of art. This love arises from a movement—yet something beyond the semblance of logical movement—that occurs in the viewer and artist. This conveyance offers the potential of a rupture, a burst that takes place in the between, a theoretical zero space of love. As a space of pure potential, the between allows for the connection necessary for thinking love, a love that asks unanswerable questions. Love in art offers indefinite openness because it initiates endless possibilities for what a subject can feel or know. Love as I define it is not necessarily dependent on empathy, struggle, hierarchy or equivalence; it is not dogma, ideal or truth; it is neither rational nor irrational. It is not to be desperately sought and located; it is a matter of presence and duration. Love in art waivers between understanding and ignorance; it is embodied, immeasurable, generous, fleeting and vii erratic. It is a manner of thriving in the expansion of self. With this paper I stake a claim for the importance of love in contemporary aesthetic practice.


Aesthetics | Arts and Humanities | Philosophy


Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts


Portland ME

Indefinite Openness: Thinking Love in Art



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