Observations on Aestheticsby Philosophers of Art
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Eldridge, Richard. Form and Content: An Aesthetic Theory of Art. British Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 25, nr. 4, Autumn 1985. Pp. 303-316.
The aesthetic quality, possession of which is necessary and sufficient for a thing’s being art, is satisfying appropriateness to one another of a thing’s form and content.
Humble, P.N. The Philosophical Challenge of Avant-Garde Art. British Journal of Aesthetics. Vol 24, nr 2, spring, 1984. 4. 119-127.
Two necessary conditions of art: "They are: (1) a work of art is something which is produced primarily with the intention of rewarding aesthetic contemplation, and which (2) exhibits value-features whose presence in the work is owing (in some degree) to an artist (or artists), i.e., someone who acts primarily with the aforesaid intention."
Osborne, Harold. Aesthetic Experience and Cultural Value. Journal of Aesthetic and Art Criticism: Vol XLIV. nr 4, Summer 1986. Pp. 331-337.
—Aesthetic experience has this in common with other main cultural values: it represents the nonutilitarian cultivation for no other purpose than its own enhancement of a natural human faculty which was originally evolved in the context of practical drives; and it attracts the honor and admiration of many but remains an active interest of the few.
—Aesthetic percipience is, like all perception, a form of cognition; but it is direct apprehension of the object upon which it is directed, not knowledge about its object. It is perception for the sake of perception and not far the sake of learning more about the rest of the world and its ways, although that may be an incidental accrual.
—[Aesthetic value is the only necessary condition for a work of art.] But aesthetic value is rarely the sole value possessed by a work of art and may not by any means be the most important value.
—Aesthetic experience is not understanding. But unless we have understood the work, from the meanings of individual words in their historical context to the most recondite implications and interconnections of moral, religious, or social issues dealt with, we cannot apprehend that work aesthetically. . . .
Danto, Arthur. The Artworld. Journal of Philosophy, vol. LXI (1964), pp. 571-584.
To see something as art requires something the eye cannot decry: an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art: an artworld.
Redfern, Betty. Dance, Art and Aesthetics. London: Dance Books Ltd., 1983.
(p. 26) "Two major recommendations have been proposed . . . . First, that instead of asking ‘What does "art" (or "work of art") mean?’ we should consider how the word or phrase is commonly used and accepted in everyday language. . . . Secondly, instead of trying to discover some property or properties common and peculiar to the various instances of (say) art, we should look for family resemblances."
(p. 32). But no matter how experimental or revolutionary the presentation, either in terms of what is presented or how, there have to be sufficient likenesses between the old and the new frameworks for us to be able to accommodate any innovations within our existing concept of art. When we question whether something is a new form of art or not art at all, it is precisely when the institutional framework is strained to breaking point - as, for instance, when an audience is required to explore a maze in a loft, finally discovering (or not, as the case may be), a dancer lying motionless, and the whole 'performance' is claimed to be a dance. But as long as a few conventions remain it is possible that our concept of art, or of a particular art form, is expanded and enriched, perhaps drastically revised.
(p.38) "The standards and traditions of art, far from being fixed or static, are constantly being enlarged and revised, as new dances, novels, films, operas and so on (as well as combinations of these) achieve the status of art, perhaps using new materials and new techniques and demanding new kinds of response and behaviour on the part of those who watch or listen or read.
(p. 38) Reference to what has gone on in the past as a necessary part of any satisfactory account of an art does not, therefore, imply a rigid concept. Paradoxically perhaps, it is the continuity of certain cultural practices and norms that makes for its flexibility and elasticity; without them innovation would be possible, for, as we saw earlier, traditions are necessary for there to be fresh developments. Modern dance, for example, originated as a direct consequence of classical ballet, and could be understood as a new kind of dance only against that background. Its exponents might have thought they were overthrowing everything, but they did not for some time attempt to dispense with, say, music or some other sort of sound accompaniment, or with stages, audiences who sat in their seats to watch, and the like. And while some of these conventions, along with a number of others, have from time to time been abandoned by later choreographers — especially by post-modern dancers — some connections with previous presentations remain, and have to remain (though it need not be the same connections that persist). Otherwise, as emphasized previously, these ‘pieces’ (a term preferred to ‘works’ by some contemporary artists) could not be seen as art at all, maybe not even as dance.
(p. 39) Indeed the knowledgeable spectator, listener, or reader — perhaps a critic, an art historian, a collector or a biographer — can often find a certain coherence between the items of an individual artist's total output, or that of a group, better than can the artist or group concerned. It is usually the connoisseur who is first aware of movements in art.
(p. 39) Conversely, it is the man- and woman-in-the-street who are apt to be most resistant to change in the arts and to be puzzled by new developments. For they have literally lost their bearings; the fewer points of reference there are to existing artworks, the more restricted and the more readily upset are people’s responses and expectations. What is required in such circumstances is someone who can latch on, as it were, to what is familiar: to repeat, we have to start with what can be seen as art. But all depends, as already indicated, on both parties being able to take for granted a whole range of shared concerns and values. The would-be appreciator will be able to grasp whatever similarities and comparisons his guide may bring to his attention only in so far as he is at home in the cultural milieu within which such similarities and comparisons make sense.
Sarratore, Steven T. Muses for a Postmodern Scenography: Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. New England Theatre Journal, vol. (1993) pp. 21-22.
Postmodernism, of course, is defined poorly, if at all. The word shows up in studies of poetry, architecture, geography, economics, and most other arts and sciences, indifferent guises meaning very different things. It is important to note that postmodernism is just that, "post" and not "anti"; it follows the modern era without negating it. Todd Gitlin writes disdainfully but accurately that "Post-modernism . . . is indifferent to consistency and continuity altogether. It self-consciously splice genre, attitudes, styles. It relishes the blurring or juxtaposition of forms (fiction-nonfiction), stances (straight-ironic), moods (violent-comic), cultural levels (high-low)" There does, however, seem to be some agreement that the following elements are part of postmodernism as it is applied to the arts:
- Artistic Indeterminacy.This concept specifies that any work of art should be created in the conditions or under the ground rules that mandate unexpected or unpredictable results. This is clearly a reflection of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.
- Deconstruction.Postmodernism seeks to break down preconceived models of structure, eliminating barriers between seemingly antithetical elements, and attempts to reconstruct a new order from the apparent remaining chaos.
- Historicism.Unlike its immediate predecessor, modernism, postmodernism does not desire the annihilation of the past. Rather it regularly employs historical and situational references and takes particular pleasure in the manipulation of historical context.
- Populism.Postmodernism allows so-called popular culture to be accepted into the realm of the aesthetic. Art is a part of everyday life and should be available, accessible, and approachable. This does not imply that art should be reduced to only the obvious, but rather that it need not necessarily exclude the obvious.
- Aesthetic Flexibility.Aesthetic flexibility allows the imposition of aesthetic value on things that were not previously endowed with artistic status as well as upon those things that are more traditionally attributed with artistic status.
- Artistic Self-Awareness.Postmodernism makes no attempt to disguise or hide the artistic process. It instead regularly acknowledges, and often plays with, the observer-observed relationship.
Dorter, Kenneth. Conceptual Truth and Aesthetic Truth. Journal of Aesthetic and Art Criticism. Vol. 38, nr 1, Winter 1990. Pp. 37-51.
The metaphoric nature of aesthetic imagination means that what distinguishes the making of artworks from the making of non-aesthetic products is the artist’s intention that we not merely see or hear or even use his work, but that we see or hear something in it, that we have a certain kind of experience that is different from the cognitive act of apprehending it alone. When we regard something as a work of art we regard it as meant to evoke such an experience. If it succeeds in doing so then what is disclosed in the experience may be called the truth that it reveals — regardless of whether we have any independent way of knowing whether this is what the artist intended.
Ingarden, Roman. Artistic and Aesthetic Values. British Journal of Aesthetics, vol IV, 1964. Pp. 198-213.
Through his co-creative activity in appreciation the observer sets himself as is commonly said to ‘interpret’ the work or, as I prefer to say, to reconstruct it in its effective characteristics, and in doing this as it were under the influence of suggestions coming from the work itself he fills out its schematic structure, plenishing at least in part the areas of indeterminacy and actualizing various elements which are as yet only in a state of potentiality. In this way there comes about what I have called a ‘concretion’ of the work of art. The work of art then is the product of the intentional activities of an artist; the concretion of the work is not only the reconstruction thanks to the activity of an observer of what was effectively present in the work, but also a completion of the work and the actualization of its moment of potentiality. It is thus in a way the common product of artist and observer.
But this mode of apprehending a work of art demands a special attitude and exertions in the observer if he is to withhold himself from all arbitrary completion of qualitative indeterminacies while at the same time taking full account of the special character of its every moment of potentiality.
There exists, however, a sense of "subjective" — usually not formulated precisely — in which the theory of the subjectivity of aesthetic (or artistic) values ought to be rejected outright, despite its popularity. This is the view that the value of a work of art (or an aesthetic object, which is usually confused with it) is nothing else but pleasure (or, in the case of negative value, disagreeableness) understood as a specific psychical state or experience lived through by an observer in contact with a given work of art. The greater the pleasure he obtains the greater the value the observer attributes to the work of art.
In truth, however, on this theory the work of art possesses no value. The observer indeed announces his pleasure by "valuing" the work of art, but strictly speaking he is valuing his own pleasure: his pleasure is valuable to him and this he uncritically transfers to the work of art which arouses his pleasure.
R.G. Collingwood, Principles of Art. From The Principles of Art (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1938)
The first sense of the word 'art' to be distinguished from art proper is the obsolete sense in which it means what in this book I shall call craft. This is what ars means in ancient Latin, and what techne means in Greek: the power to produce a preconceived result by means of consciously controlled and directed action.
- Craft always involves a distinction between means and end. each clearly conceived a, something distinct from the other but related to it.
- It involves a distinction between planning and execution. The result to be obtained is preconceived or thought out before being arrived at. The craftsman knows what he wants to make before he makes it.
- Means and end are related in one way in the process of planning; in the opposite way in the process of execution. In planning the end is prior to the means.
- There is a distinction between raw material and finished product or artifact. A craft is always exercised upon something, and aims at the transformation of this into something different.
- There is a distinction between form and matter. The matter is what is identical in the raw material and the finished product; the form is what is different, what the exercise of the craft changes.
- There is a hierarchical relation between various crafts, one supplying what another needs, one using what another provides.
If unplanned works of art are possible, it does not follow that no planned work is a work of art.
Until a man has expressed his emotion, he does not yet know what emotion it is. The act of expressing it is therefore an exploration of his own emotions. He is trying to find out what these emotions are . . . . Expression is an activity of which there can be no technique.
But if his business is not amusement but art, the. object at which he is aiming is not to produce a preconceived emotional effect on his audience but by means of a system of expressions. or language, composed partly of speech and partly of gesture, to explore his own emotions: to discover in himself of which he was unaware, and by permitting the audience to witness the discovery, enable them to make a similar discovery about themselves.
Hammel, William M., ed. The Popular Arts in America: A Reader. 1972.
Popular art, aimed at the majority, is neither abstruse, complicated, or profound. To understand and appreciate it should require neither specialized technical, nor professional knowledge. It is relatively free of corrective influences derived from minority sources; its standards of comprehension and achievement are received from consensus; it must be commonly approved, pervasive in the population, "popular" in the sense that the majority of people like and endorse it and will not accept marked deviation from its standards and conventions. More individualized than folk art, but less so than elite art, popular art tends to be more dependent than either on the skill of the performer.
Popular art confirms the experience of the majority, in contrast to elite art , which tends to explore the new. For this reason popular art has been an unusually sensitive and accurate reflector of the attitudes and concerns of the society for which it is produced.
The popular audience expects entertainment, instruction, or both rather than an "aesthetic experience." The popular artist cannot disturb or offend any significant part of his public; though the elite artist may and should be a critic of his society, the popular artist cannot risk alienation.
Novitz, David. Ways of Artmaking: The High and the Popular in Art.
The dominant classes, I have said, find high art congenial. Art that raises disturbing political, moral, economic, or religious issues, that questions gender relations, or points a finger at the sexism, racism or economic injustices that abound in our society, is sometimes dismissed as mere propaganda, or, at best, as popular or as political art. Whatever else it is, it is not the ‘real’ thing: it is not high art. It threatens social order, entrenched power, and, of course, it promises social chaos. So much better the abstract, formal and introverted values of art that are seen as pure, entirely gratuitous, and free of the demands of everyday life.
Kulka, Tomas. Kitsch. British Journal of Aesthetics. Vol. 28, nr 1; Winter 1988. Pp. 18-27.
— Kitsch defined: a) Undeniable mass appeal; b) considered by art educated elite as "bad."
— Subjects are highly charged with stock emotions which spontaneously elicit a ready response. [This is the necessary condition. Always figurative, beautiful, cute. characterized by undisturbing, universal emotions.]
- Kitsch depicts an object or theme which is generally considered to be beautiful or highly charged with stock emotions. . . . The "realism" of kitsch thus consists of the compliance with the most well-tried and tested representational conventions.
- The object or theme depicted by kitsch is instantly and effortlessly identifiable.
- Kitsch does not substantially enrich our associations related to the depicted subjects.