Chapter 3. Phenomenology and Interpretation beyond the Flesh

  1. Dana Arnold Professor of Architectural History
  1. Amanda Boetzkes Assistant Professor

Published Online: 18 AUG 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444324716.ch3

Art History

Art History

How to Cite

Boetzkes, A. (2010) Phenomenology and Interpretation beyond the Flesh, in Art History (ed D. Arnold), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444324716.ch3

Editor Information

  1. University of Southampton UK

Author Information

  1. Department of Art and Design, University of Alberta, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 AUG 2010
  2. Published Print: 14 MAY 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444333596

Online ISBN: 9781444324716



  • phenomenology and interpretation - beyond the flesh;
  • ethical quandaries, issues of subjectivity - and interpretation of art, revolving around questions of who is representing;
  • phenomenology, serving as a counterpoint - to art-historical analyses explaining meaning of an artwork through deference to historic context;
  • phenomenology, relations between viewer and artwork - being variable;
  • spectre of solipsism, present in discipline of art history;
  • phenomenology, associated with notion of embodiment - influence of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's writings;
  • intentional experience and embodied action - and intentionality, topic at the heart of phenomenology since Husserl;
  • ethics, acknowledgement of artwork's alterity - interrogation of limits of perceptual field;
  • artwork's demand for expression of the body - revealing limits of the flesh, establishing reciprocity


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • The Problematics of the Flesh

  • The Intentional Experience and Embodied Action

  • Reciprocity and the Ethics of Interpretation

  • Conclusion