Keynote speech at TRAC — title and abstract

My keynote speech at the joint The Representational Art Conference (TRAC) and Figurative Art Conference and Expo (FACE) will be given in Miami on November 10. My title is The Flight from the Figure — and Back: Human Significance in Art. The abstract is:

Across centuries, the art world has exhibited cyclical trends of engagement and withdrawal, idealism and despair, groundedness in reality and flights from it. And now, after a century of artistic retreat, the human urge for human significance and creativity seems to be reasserting itself.
As individuals, artists make philosophically-pregnant choices with each work they begin: What do I want to express? What do I think and feel is significant? What do I want to see made real? What experiences do I want to generate in my viewers? What is worth spending my time on?
Yet artists also work within a broader culture that encourages or discourages their individual decisions. That broader culture is a joint product of artists, critics, and philosophers working in rough tandem, each generation dominated by humanistic, anti-humanistic, or indifferent-to-humanism trends.
In this talk, Stephen Hicks will speak of philosophy’s role in first developing the artistic culture in which modernism and postmodernism arose—but how philosophy has now moved on to new themes and priorities, ones that work well with the art world’s weariness with postmodernism’s cynical repetitiveness and its resurgent humanism.

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