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Introduction to Metaphysics: Art and Ontology

Todd Hoyer, Untitled from Suspended Sphere Series, 2000, eucalyptus and wire. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen, 2002/2.146. Courtesy of the artist © Todd Hoyer

PHILOSOPHY 298 – College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Faculty Curator: Faculty member: Maegan Fairchild (Philosophy)

On view: Fall 2021

Contemporary metaphysicians are interested in questions having to do with the nature of objects. How can art objects help us better understand the material world?

How much change can physical objects survive? Are there only things that are made up of physical objects or are there “abstract” objects, like properties or numbers? This course uses art objects to raise (and complicate) some of these questions. Students will consider the works on display as case studies to better understand central debates in metaphysics and as opportunities to examine how these questions might be better approached through the rich metaphysics of art objects.

Works Included In This Collection

Hatakeyama Norie
paper lash
John Gaspar
oil on wood
Robert Indiana
silkscreen on paper
Sol LeWitt
lithograph on Italia paper
Judy Chicago
milled steel, gold-plating
Dominick Labino


Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Erica Gervais Pappendick and Ted Pappendick, the Eleanor Noyes Crumpacker Endowment Fund, and the Oakriver Foundation.