The Happening of Truth


‘Heidegger believed that art was an alternative way of discovering the truth about the world and Nature.

[Heidegger]
“Art is the happening of Truth. It discloses Being without making it into a classifiable entity.”

In his essay “The Origin of the Work of Art” (1935). Heidegger turned to a painting of shoes by Van Gogh to explicate his point about art as “the happening of truth”:

“A pair of peasant shoes and nothing more. And yet – From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth … In the shoes vibrates the silent call of the earth, its quiet gift of the ripening grain and its unexplained self-refusal in the fallow desolation of the wintry field.”

Heidegger’s argument is that Van Gogh’s painting re-creates the lived context of the peasant’s life. Because the painting achieves this, Heidegger concludes:

[Heidegger]
“Van Gogh’s painting is the disclosure of what the equipment, the pair of peasant shoes, is in Truth.”

Heidegger’s reading of Van Gogh’s painting is part of the tradition of hermeneutics, in which the work of art is seen as a clue or symptom for a wider sense of reality.’

– Kul-Want. C. (2012) Aesthetics London, United Kingdom: Icon Books p. 98-100

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