Modernism, Tehatricality, and Scepticism: Michael Fried and Cavell’s Conception of the Ordinary Language Philosophy

Nikola Dedić


The paper treats the relationship between the art historian Michael Fried and the philosopher Stanley Cavell, as well as their readings of Wittgenstein’s late philosophy. It argues that Fried’s entire historic-artistic method rests on Wittgensteinian grounds; there is special emphasis on theses concerning the grammatical criteria of language and scepticism. Namely, Fried, like Cavell, interprets modernism as a crisis of a priori criteria by which we come to think a given object as a successful work of art. Fried labels an artwork’s failure to convince, to communicate with the recipient, with the term theatre. This text establishes an analogy between Fried’s concept of theatre, Cavell’s concept of scepticism, and Wittgenstein’s thesis of the impossibility of a private language, situating those theses in the wider context of discussions of modernism.


ordinary language philosophy, history of art, theatre, scepticism, private language, grammatical criteria, Michael Fried, Stanley Cavell, Ludwig Wittgenstein

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AM Journal of Art and Media Studies ISSN 2217-9666 - printed, ISSN 2406-1654 - online, UDK 7.01:316.774


Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

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