Some basics We often praise a work for its likeness to life. Paintings represent objects so we can see the object in the painting. If we cant, the painting often loses its point, e.g. portraits, or fails as a painting. Artists and actors spend years developing techniques for realism.
Heda, Still Life with a Lobster (1650-9)
How does art represent reality? Art is not an imitation, nor do pictures try to get us to confuse art with reality Nor does art literally copy reality, e.g. when there is no reality to copy, but the artist makes it up as they go And the value of art is not judged by how exact a copy it is
Vernet, A Landscape at Sunset (1773)
Turner, The Scarlet Sunset ( )
Copying (cont.) If art was copying, wouldnt photographs be better than paintings? A good forgery is a good copy, but not good art. What about dance, music, literature? Nothing is being copied…
Representation We could still argue that good art represents authentically But if nothing is represented, then nothing is represented authentically Not only painting, but music
Newman, New Adam (1951-2)
The artists vision Art can convey some truth about reality without representing reality - it can convey a vision of the world, a deeper sense of reality
Grünewald The Crucifixion (c. 1502)
Advantages We can distinguish what is represented from what is expressed. We can value the artwork as an artwork without valuing what is represented. We can distinguish the value of an original from the value of a forgery.
Emotional expression This takes us towards the idea that art is valuable for emotional expression. The vision is always emotional (if it is valuable to us as art), i.e. it expresses emotional responses to or understandings of the world. But how can art express emotion?
Schedonis The Holy Family with the Virgin teaching the Child to Read (c. 1615)
Applying psychological terms to artworks A painting cant literally be calm, content, intimate, sad… Are we describing what the painting is of, e.g. content, intimate people?
Jan Steen The Effects of Intemperance (1663-5)
Audience emotion Suggestion: a sad painting is a painting that arouses sadness Obj.: a painting can arouse sadness without expressing sadness –E.g. someone might feel sad looking at Schedoni because it reminds them that they dont have an intimate family –This doesnt mean the painting is a sad painting - it isnt
Artist emotion A sad painting expresses the artists sadness Objection: this limits what an artist can paint to what she or he feels Better: a sad painting is one that the artist intends to evoke sadness in the audience A painting is experienced correctly when the audience feels or at least understands the emotion the artist intended to arouse
Intention Intention here is broad, i.e. all psychological states that bring the artist to make the painting just as it is –The artist does not have to be conscious of their intention –Their intention may evolve with the artwork At some point, the artist accepts that the work is as it should be –This process of finding exactly the right expression of emotion is a large part of art.
Picasso The Three Dancers (1925)
Form and content Emphasis on representation leads to a focus on what is represented, not how Many aesthetic judgments pick out form - grace, elegance, balance, harmony
Leonardo da Vinci, The Virgin of the Rocks ( )
Bell on significant form We appreciate art for its form. All art, in fact, every picture, movement, series of sounds, has some form. Aesthetic response is not to form per se, but significant form. We can only identify whether something has significant form by our aesthetic response to it. Art is about the exploration of form, the contemplation of form for its own sake.
Discussion Formalism works best where there is no representation, e.g. music –But even here, expressivism can argue that it is the emotions expressed that matter - form is just a means to this. Significant form isnt defined. We dont just respond to the form of an artwork.
Rembrandt, Self-portrait at the age of 63 (1669)