In this work, we undertake to demonstrate that the merleau-pontian inquiry into art orders itself according to three distinct and successive speculative movements. In the 1940s, the elaboration of a phenomenology of perception led Merleau-Ponty to approach art starting from the work of art and the perceiving subject who receives it, the spectator. From the beginning of the 1950s, this phenomenology of the work of art and aesthetic perception gave way to a philosophy of expression. The point of departure for artistic questioning changes: it is no longer the meaning expressed, but the expressive or creative act. The signification of the work of art sees itself from this moment understood starting from the meaning of being for the artist: the work is a response to perceptive omissions (manques perceptifs) of the artist. At the end of the 1950s, the merleau-pontian progress of thought experiences an ontological turning. Merleau-Ponty wants to regress below the artist, toward Being itself, which imposes itself finally as the true creator. The last merleau-pontian philosophy of art takes from this moment the aspects of a traditional philosophy of inspiration.

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