The publication Think Art sums up the proceedings of the symposium organized by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, under the direction of philosopher Jean-Marie Schaeffer. At its basis is the desire for a systematic methodological approach to the distance that separates contemporary art practice from the intellectual instruments that we have for ‘thinking art.’ The status of artworks as means for relating to reality, as tools for obtaining pleasure and knowledge, may situate them in a universe where the specific characteristics of the aesthetic method need to be redefined outside the transcendental models inherited from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which still function as theoretical frameworks for evaluation.

The symposium began with a comparison and contrast between the methodology of the philosopher engaged in aesthetic investigation and the methodologies of the historian, the sociologist and the artist. Three sessions each including two lectures, were offered as public presentations, followed by a closed-door seminar where some fifteen persons were able to discuss and elaborate on the themes introduced in the lectures, as well as others that came up in the course of the discussions. In the first of the sessions, Catherine Ingraham contributed new considerations developed from a critical and historiographical viewpoint for application to architecture. Thus the thinking and making of art were contrasted with architecture where the relations between conception and realization involve quite different levels of complexity. Nathalie Heinich presented her positions from the perspective of a sociology applied to the reception of contemporary art. Finally Tohan Grimonprez spoke of the motivations, choices, and techniques used in his own work. Reactions to the lectures by Andreas Broeckman, Felix lanssens & Ben Laloua, Herma Klijnstra, Henk Oosterling, and Renée Turner initiated a genuinely interesting and original debate, from various professional and intellectual perspectives, while johan Grimonprez contributed with a special project emanating from his ongoing media works.

It is Witte de With’s desire to have contributed, with the symposium, and with this publication, to the broadening and reactivation of the debate on contemporary culture, hoping to have defined and actualized the possibilities and limits of a number of relevant methodological questions. To this end, the publication itself can serve as a stimulus and as a critical framework for a continuing reflection and dialogue in art and about art, which we intend to pursue in the daily activity of this institution.

In the publication Think Art Schaeffer has explored further the subject along with authors representing various disciplines: Catherine Ingraham, Nathalie Heinich, Johan Grimonprez, Henk Oosterling, Yves Michaud, Renée Turner, Herma Klijnstra, Andreas Broeckman, and Felix Janssens & Ben Laloua.