"At bottom," Martin Heidegger said, "the ordinary is not ordinary; it is extraordinary." Poetry Magazine's new piece on Martin Heidegger's "The Origin of the Work of Art" explores how art enlivens the experience of our daily lives. And while Heidegger privileges poetry as the truest form of art, there is an argument here that lends itself to fashion. Heidegger's essay uses a painting of a pair of shoes painted by Van Gogh to illustrate how art helps us achieve a new understanding of the numinous essence beyond reality. Poetry Magazine sums up the issue for us.
Looking at Van Gogh's painting of a pair of shoes, Heidegger suggests, something different happens. For the first time, we become aware of the two dimensions or axes in which a pair of shoes exists. On the one hand, we are struck by their physical reality: their weight and texture and color, all the qualities we tend to overlook when we wear them. At the same time, the painting allows us to imagine the life in which these shoes belong. Crucially, these two aspects of the shoes—what they are and what they do—are inextricable in the painting. In this way, he suggests, the Van Gogh painting demonstrates the double purpose of art.
We think that by using a pair of shoes, even a pair of peasants shoes, Heidegger and even Van Gogh are suggesting at something far more interesting. You see, while Heidegger contends that shoes are a practical matter, utilitarian in nature, tasks, Van Gogh raises them to art. But we wonder what happens when utility in fact meets art. What happens when the utilitarian is not simply represented in art but is in fact art. We happen to think that nexus is fashion. Footwear can transcend that artifical divide between utility and the sublime hope of art. And what is more poetic than that?