Logical empiricism and art
the correspondence Otto Neurath/Meyer Schapiro
pp. 471-488in: Jordi Cat, Adam Tuboly (eds), Neurath reconsidered, Berlin, Springer, 2019
Logical Positivists had a very lively interest in the revolutionary science of their time, but also in modern art and especially in "international style" architecture. Surprisingly they never published a representative volume or longer statement on art and architecture. But: it is not well known that Otto Neurath, their leading organizer and spokesman, invited the (later on) eminent art historian and critic Meyer Schapiro (professor at Columbia University NY) to contribute a volume on art to the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Schapiro failed to deliver the promised book. But from the extended correspondence and some material in the Schapiro papers one can describe the general direction the thing would have taken. The correspondence is also very interesting, because it also covers questions of the endangered peace and the approaching war, the academic scene in Europe and in the USA, and surprisingly: Martin Heidegger. Neurath died in 1945, but Schapiro came back to the Heidegger theme in 1968 when he wrote his famous harsh criticism of Heidegger's programmatic long paper "Das Kunstwerk" (the work of art) where he interprets one of Van Gogh's shoe-paintings. Schapiro's short article caused much controversy then (even Jacques Derrida intervened).