Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Art General

Opening Gambits

Essays on Art and Philosophy

by (author) Mark Kingwell

Key Porter Books
Initial publish date
Aug 2008
General, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2009
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2008
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


What is the role of art in modern society?
Is it made to entertain us, to teach us? Both? And what of philosophy? What relevance does it have to how we think and live? In Opening Gambits, cultural critic and philosopher Mark Kingwell puts forth an argument for the similarity between art and philosophy as forms of play, working at the margins of meaning and sense.
Featuring essays previously published in Queen's Quarterly, Descant, Harvard Design Magazine, Canadian Art, and Harper's, the book begins with general assessments of the art world and the relationship between art and architecture. Including lively critical engagements with artists such as Edward Burtynsky, David Bierk, James Lahey, and Blue Republic, these pieces draw out the philosophical issues embedded in the aesthetic experience of art. In the second half of the collection, Kingwell reverses the polarity, investigating philosophy as a kind of art form that is constantly questioning its own possibility. The two parts of the book are simultaneously separated and joined by a collection of images that feature the works discussed in Part One.
Written in Kingwell's witty and eloquent style, Opening Gambits is a thought-provoking analysis by a social commentator at the top of his game.
Praise for Opening Gambits:
"A writer like Kingwell is worth his weight in gold." - Books in Canada
"Few writers in Canada are better at rendering complex issues in such vivid, simple writing." - Quill & Quire

About the author


Mark Kingwell is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author of eleven books of political and cultural theory, including most recently, Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City (2008) and Opening Gambits: Essays on Art and Philosophy (2008). He is the recipient of the Spitz Prize in political theory, National Magazine Awards for both essays and columns, and in 2000 was awarded an honorary DFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design for contributions to theory and criticism.

Patrick Turmel is an assistant professor of philosophy at Université Laval. His main research interests are in moral and political philosophy. He has published articles in ethics and on issues pertaining to cities and justice. He is also co-editor of Penser les institutions (Presses de l’Université Laval).


Mark Kingwell's profile page

Other titles by Mark Kingwell