The foregoing reflections are concerned with the riddle of art, the riddle that art itself is. They are far from claiming to solve the riddle. The task is to see the riddle.

Almost from the time when specialized thinking about art and the artist began, this thought was called aesthetic. Aesthetics takes the work of art as an object, the object of aisthesis, of sensuous apprehension in the wide sense. Today we call this apprehension lived experience. The way in which man experiences art is supposed to give information about its essence. Lived experience is the source that is standard not only for art appreciation and enjoyment but also for artistic creation. Everything is an experience. Yet perhaps lived experience is the element in which art dies. The dying occurs so slowly that it takes a few centuries.

To be sure, people speak of immortal works of art and of art as an eternal value. Speaking this way means using that language which does not trouble with precision in all essential matters, for fear that in the end to be precise would call for—thinking. And is there any greater anxiety today than that in the face of thinking? Does this talk about immortal works and the eternal value of art have any content or substance? Or are these merely the half-baked cliches of an age when great art, together with its essence, has departed from among human beings?

In the most comprehensive reflection on the essence of art that the West possesses—comprehensive because it stems from metaphysics— namely, Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, the following propositions occur:

Art no longer counts for us as the highest manner in which truth obtains existence for itself.

Martin Heidegger (GA 9) The Origin of the Work of Art - Basic Writings (1993)