Art, visual impairment and the gatekeepers of aesthetic value

Authored by: David Feeney

The Routledge Handbook of Visual Impairment

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138085411
eBook ISBN: 9781315111353
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter brings the institutional contextualisation that has characterised critical approaches to art appreciation since the 1960s into contact with the roughly contemporaneous emergence of the sociological reorientation of approaches to disability that afforded an invaluable distinction between impairment and disablement. The devising of such an interdisciplinary critical framework affords consideration of the ableist assumptions at work in some of the processes through which value is determined within the domain of the arts. The roles of “gatekeepers” at the periphery of this formal domain receive particular attention here, as the evaluative criteria underpinning the bestowal of credibility on an artwork’s candidacy for appreciation are scrutinised through the critical lens of an ableist framework borrowed from cultural disability studies.

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