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Floating University

What is Art? Join the Floating University at the New York Public Library Tomorrow Night

It is one of the most debated subjects of all time: What is art? Some might think it doesn’t much matter whether or not consensus is achieved on this highly subjective topic, but the definition of art has an enormous impact upon how the arts are — or aren’t — funded. The question of what constitutes art spills over into debates about art’s value to society — whether access to the arts is right as basic as education or health care. In this live event from The Floating University, Bard College President Leon Botstein explains why it is essential to ask these questions and offers a sturdy basis for evaluating them. He goes so far as to suggest that engaging with art can give our lives meaning and purpose.

Please join us tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 6 – 8 p.m at the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for a screening of “Art Now,” followed by a Q&A with President Botstein led by Big Think President Peter Hopkins. Attendees will also be treated to opening remarks by Tony Marx, President of the New York Public Library, and Arezoo Moseni, the Senior Art Librarian.

So what is art, and why is it so important? President Botstein offers this thoughtful response to the question in an interview with the NYPL on the Huffington Post:

Botstein called art “the cultivation of the imagination beyond the practical and utilitarian,” and said, “The most important thing about art is it is the most powerful protection against a sense of boredom. And boredom, ultimately, is the most terrifying and most dangerous human experience because boredom creates a sense of meaningless, pointlessness. It destroys our sense of the power of time. Of the finite character of mortality. It creates anger and resentment. And it’s unnecessary. The finding or creating of beauty in the world is enormous protection against a sense of meaningless and resentment and pointlessness.” 

Stave off boredom tomorrow night and join the dialogue. Check out the first two minutes of the video lecture below for a taste of Bostein’s FU lecture:

Is Botstein on the right track? What do you think constitutes art? Enter your response below, or a question for President Botstein, to take part in the discussion remotely. 

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, and is easily accessible by the 1/2/3, A/C, D/B/F/M, 4/5/6, and 7 trains that converge at or around Grand Central Station. The doors open at 5:30, and seating is first-come, first serve, unless you’re one of our VIP seat winners, who have reserved seating in the front row.