In “The Artworld” written by philosopher Arthur Danto a character by the name of Testadura is introduced. Testadura is Italian for “hard head” and throughout the literary piece it becomes clear that Testadura lives up to his name. Danto has Testadura look at two paintings by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenberg which both depict beds. Testadura, being hard-headed just as his name, is strongly set in his opinions of what the paintings are. However, Danto feels that when Testadura views the artwork he is making mistakes, but he is also correct about some of what he has to say according to his theory of art. The author of “The Artworld”, Danto, uses his character Testadura along with Testadura’s views both right and wrong to explain the complex theory of art.
While Rauschenberg and Oldenberg both depict beds they do so in a different way. It is important to note that Oldenberg’s bed is very realistically depicted. The bed is viewed with the surrounding room visible which appears to be a bedroom. The only thing that seems out of the ordinary for a bed is the diagonal end placed upon the end. It is quite easy to see why Testadura argues that this bed is only a bed when viewing this work of art. However, Rauschenberg’s painting differs more from the mental image of a bed most of us picture. The bed depicted by Rauschenberg, “…hangs on a wall, and is streaked by some desultory house paint” (Danto 205). The upright bed is not functional in the sense a physical bed is expected to be. It is common for the viewer separate from the Artworld to question things about this bed like how the bedding and pillows stay in their correct places while the bed is upright. It is also common for those to wonder why the bed has been splashed with paint, but the splashing of paint helps to make a greater association with art. Upon viewing both beds Testadura has a difficult time associating the beds with art and not their physical use.
When Testadura views the beds by Rauschenberg and Oldenberg his hard-headed qualities disallow him to see anything but a mere physical bed (Danto 205). Instead, all Testadura is able to see is paint or bed not a painted bed. “They mistook art for reality, and so had Testadura” (Danto 205). Testadura is making a philosophical error when he is unable to see that the bed is not a real, functional, bed, it is an artwork. He is correct in the sense that the bed paintings do depict physical beds which are real objects, "To mistake an artwork for a real object is no great feat when an artwork is the real object one mistakes it for" (Danto 205). Although, Testadura is correct in this sense there are flaws in his thoughts of the beds.
However, Testadura is also incorrect about the objects in front of him a much more complex way. It is not a bed with paint on it, instead it is an artwork that is made of a bed and paint. Similarly, there are those who mistake “a person for a material body when the truth is that a person is a material...