What is art?

What is art? What is beauty?

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davidm
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Re: What is art?

Post by davidm » Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:53 am

Dubious wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:50 am
The painting is a major masterpiece by any standard and goes far beyond being merely idealistic. I'll take it over Picasso a thousand times over!
:lol:

Yes I guess all sorts of dumb asses would take this crap over Picasso. Believe me, I get it. It's why we have Cheeto Benito as president!

Nick_A
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Re: What is art?

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:02 am

Alexander von Humboldt was an exceptional man of science with an interest in art. Frederic Church was a man of art with an interest in science. Together they accomplished something very rare which is to allow religion and science vivify each other. It is hard to do justice to the result of this relationship. It is a very deep study. However, if interested, you can get a glimpse here:

http://www.charlespetzold.com/blog/2009 ... Andes.html

........................
To Frederic Church, the scientific quest, the artistic quest, and the religious quest were one and the same.

In the first New York exhibition of The Heart of the Andes, Church would sometimes hide behind the curtains and watch the people come to see his painting, and this was how he spotted Isabel Carnes, the young woman who was to become his wife. With money earned from The Heart of the Andes, Church purchased a cottage for himself and Isabel in Hudson, New York, a scenic area in the Hudson River Valley with a view of the Catskill Mountains, and it was there he built his mansion, Olana, which is now a New York State Historic Site.

Church had hoped that when The Heart of the Andes went to Europe, Alexander von Humboldt would get a chance to see his ideas about science and art encapsulated in Church's large painting. But Humboldt died at the age of 89 on May 6, 1859, just one week after the painting had gone on public display in New York City.

Humboldt would experience a second death later that year — and by extension, the entire metaphysical conception of The Heart of the Andes would be called into question — with the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859. In Darwin's conception of natural selection, nature isn't an overall unity driven by internal forces, but a competition for survival based on adaptation to external conditions through random variations.
Frederic Edwin Church, alas, felt even more committed than Humboldt to the philosophical comfort of their shared vision, for Church, unlike Humboldt, had rooted a good portion of his Christian fairth — for him a most important source of inspiration and equanimity — in a view of nature as essential harmony in unity. (Gould)


Design was illusory. Any harmony perceived in the world was instead a barely stabalized balance, and Church struggled with the ramifications of Darwin's discoveries for much the rest of his life.
God, the Creator, had been taken out of the landscape, thereby nullifying the significant teleological element of most of Church's major wilderness scenes. Science, once Church's friend and ally, was turning its back on religion, and the painter resisted this change. (Davis, 81)

In 1867 through 1869, Church travelled through Europe and the Near East, spending much time in the Holy Land, perhaps "his last effort to resolve post-Darwinian science with his pre-Darwinian world view." (Davis, 80) Church painted a dramatic Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (1870) — 7 feet wide and 4½ feet high — that provides a sense of the vision that triggered George Bertram's religious experience in Anthony Trollope's novel The Bertrams, published just a month before the debut of The Heart of the Andes.

Church's fame gradually declined from the peak he reached in 1859. He died in 1900, a year after his wife. The Heart of the Andes was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1909, but Church's reputation wasn't resurrected until the 1960s.

When we look at The Heart of the Andes today, we can see much of what those first viewers saw 150 years ago: We sense the grandeur of the natural world, the sublime peace of the quiet village in the shadow of towering mountains, the excitement of the wide range of geographical environments and teeming life. Yet we understand — intellectually, at least, if not always emotionally — that the apparent harmony of Church's microcosmic universe is merely an illusion, that beneath the surface there is struggle and competition, survival and death.

The big difference between those first viewers and ourselves comes when our eyes wander up the little path to the pilgrimage cross. We don't see the cross as a symbol of God's presence in this magnificent landscape. We see instead a symbol of Man's presence — and an attempt, but ultimately an inadequate attempt, to understand the mysteries of existence.
The experts of course could not appreciate the depth of the ideas within “The Heart of the Andes” so once Darwin’s ideas became fashionable Church’s reputation suffered. He was part of a group of artists called the Hudson river School. It was a derogatory term invented by experts to criticize these nut jobs in the Catskills. More recently the Hudson River School has become greatly admired by a minority more open to the spirituality of man in nature and the philosophical questions it raises.

Nick_A
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Re: What is art?

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:14 am

Greta wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:11 am
I think Nick was just trying to address the subject of "experts", letting us know that those who have devoted their lives to study and work in a field know no more about a subject than laypersons [sic].

Unlike in religion, experts in secular societies are allowed to disagree with each. They are also allowed to change their minds. In religion this shows a lack of depth and faith. In science it's just logical - if the evidence is there, then opinions change. In this case, art experts from different eras disagreed regarding the quality of particular works. Does that render all their ideas to be more more than that of a layperson?

Whatever, in this anti-expert era of increasingly proud ignorance, unlike climate change, denialists of expertise can enjoy the fact that expert opinion doesn't matter in personal art appreciation. For instance, if Picasso's Girl Before a Mirror to be amongst my favourite works of art, why would I care about any contrary expert opinion? If an expert didn't much enjoy the piece, why would that change my day?
I may be wrong but I believe Joseph Turner has sold for as high as fifty million. Aivazovsky has sold for as high I believe as five million. Why? Turner called Aivazovsky a genius. The reason is obvious. Turner is British and Aivazovsky is Armenian. People listen to experts and experts determine the financial value of paintings. Armenians are not fashionable. Could it be possible that experts support racism? Of course not. They are experts and above such childish nonsense. Heh, heh, heh, foolish child.

Dubious
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Re: What is art?

Post by Dubious » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:14 am

davidm wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:53 am
Dubious wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:50 am
The painting is a major masterpiece by any standard and goes far beyond being merely idealistic. I'll take it over Picasso a thousand times over!
:lol:

Yes I guess all sorts of dumb asses would take this crap over Picasso. Believe me, I get it. It's why we have Cheeto Benito as president!
You remind me of another idiot who called Mozart a "chintzy composer". Calling this painting "crap" only proves that everything you "claim" to know about art can be rolled up in a minuscule amount of snot replete with its own snot signature called a superiority complex.

I have no problems with Picasso or that he was a genius. Because he had so many styles there are some I like without being too crazy about any of them which doesn't negate his ability in spite of being convinced his reputation vastly exceeds it. To my mind, a contemporary more likely to deserve it would be Salvador Dalí. But time will tell. It has often inversed values though it may have taken a century or two...or more.

BTW, Cheeto Benito is YOUR president, not mine. There must be a lot of Cheetos in your neck of the woods otherwise Benito wouldn't be president.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:18 am

But Greta, take jazz for instance, which I know you do very much so. I never understood jazz, have never been exposed to it by any teachers or makers of jazz. If I were, in a fit of enthusiasm, to try to drum in a band I'd simply make a mess.
People have to learn any idiom. Nick opposes educationists whom he thinks are pawns of the lowest common denominator of a society's Culture industry.

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Greta
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Re: What is art?

Post by Greta » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:46 am

Belinda wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:18 am
But Greta, take jazz for instance, which I know you do very much so. I never understood jazz, have never been exposed to it by any teachers or makers of jazz. If I were, in a fit of enthusiasm, to try to drum in a band I'd simply make a mess.
People have to learn any idiom. Nick opposes educationists whom he thinks are pawns of the lowest common denominator of a society's Culture industry.
Yes, you would need to learn to play, or play along with records and jam with other novices until you improve.

Most people wouldn't dream of thinking they could sit in with a band without playing experience, yet many have no qualms in believing that they know more about theoretical physics and biology than physicists and biologists. It would be comical if the most fanatical of them weren't so determined to dilute school science curricula with theology or to denigrate their usual vulnerable targets.

davidm
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Re: What is art?

Post by davidm » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:50 pm

I guess I should clarify/apologize; I’m not really saying anyone who prefers “In the Heart of the Andes” over Picasso is a dumb ass, or that the work is really crap. As I stated earlier, it is technically brilliant.

But I get exasperated because, so often when I engage in a discussion of art and it veers to Picasso, the Picasso dissers pop up. It’s always a variant of the dreary old cliche: “My child could draw better than that!”

Well, no sir, your child — unless he is a genius — could not draw better than Picasso. :roll:

Picasso was not only a genius, but I believe a one-off — there was no one like him before, and there never will be one like him again. His genius stands on a high mountain above all others.

“Andes” is technically brilliant, but it is a genre painting, the genre of idealized romanticism. There is nothing wrong with this. But it is extremely limiting. The genre painter is a slave to appearances. Yet there is much, much more to art than surface appearance —particularly when such appearances can be captured much more easily by the camera (though great photography also can and should transcend surface appearances).

If someone doesn’t grok Picasso, for me it is like being a mathematician and hearing that someone doesn’t understand math. A whole universe of aesthetic experience is foreclosed to that person.

As someone who has studied and who makes art, I grok Picasso. Maybe people should ask themselves: Is there something I may not know about art, because I haven’t actually studied it? Is there something I can learn? After all, this is why there are art schools and art appreciation classes. Because art is something you learn about, like anything else. And as you learn, you may find that your opinions about art will change as your knowledge of it grows.

Most people seem to love the art of Van Gogh, but why? (or why not, if you don’t.) Van Gogh is known for the intensity and expressiveness of his color. But why does his color work to create expressiveness? There are reasons for it. When you start learning these reasons, you begin to have a growing understanding of, and appreciation for, art; and your aesthetic horizons will be expanded.

davidm
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Re: What is art?

Post by davidm » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:12 pm

If anyone doubts Picasso’s grasp of realism or genre painting, here is a painting he made when he was fourteen years old.

https://mydailyartdisplay.files.wordpre ... icasso.jpg

Nah, I don’t think your child could do that. :lol:

Nick_A
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Re: What is art?

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:14 pm

Davidm
“Andes” is technically brilliant, but it is a genre painting, the genre of idealized romanticism. There is nothing wrong with this. But it is extremely limiting. The genre painter is a slave to appearances. Yet there is much, much more to art than surface appearance —particularly when such appearances can be captured much more easily by the camera (though great photography also can and should transcend surface appearances).
You have no idea what either Aivazovsky or Church were capable of. For example:
How was it that Aivazovsky entranced connoisseurs and ordinary art-lovers alike? Turner partially answered this question in his poem: it was Aivazovsky's unusual true-ness to nature which amazed his contemporaries when they looked at his pictures; it was his ability to convey the effect of moving water and of reflected sun- and moonlight. In short it was his accurate, but at the same time highly-charged and dramatic depiction of the sea. However, Aivazovsky took some time to discover the secret of creating such impressive images. All his student years and the beginning of his foreign scholarship had been devoted to pursuit of his technique.

It is interesting to compare Aivazovsky with the Russian artist Sylvester Shchedrin, who died in Italy only ten years before Aivazovsky set foot on Italian soil. Shchedrin had broken with the academic tradition of conventional landscapes in the 1820s. His pictures had been painted directly from life and combined severe realism with a certain sense of poetry. Shchedrin was idolized by those young artists who yearned to achieve truth in their art. Aivazovsky's favorite subject-matter was very close to that of Shchedrin, and he too was under the spell of his great predecessor. It was his aim to follow in Shchedrin's footsteps.

The underlying principle of Shchedrin's endeavor was to paint strictly from life. This was the way Aivazovsky had painted in the Crimea and this was the way he began to paint in Italy. Wishing to discover the secret of Shchedrin's art, he even tried painting a landscape from exactly the same spot as Shchedrin {The Coast near Amalfi). However, being a man of different temperament and a product of another age, Aivazovsky could not become another Shchedrin.

A picture might be accurate and exact, but it would be sterile without the pulse of life within it. The viewer would see familiar places and painstakingly reproduced details, but would remain indifferent to what he saw. Instead of copying direct from nature, then, Aivazovsky tried to create a picture of the shimmering, leaping sea from memory in his studio. A miracle occurred-it was as if the sea had really begun to sparkle and shimmer, filled with incessant movement. The artist had discovered his own method of depicting nature from memory, even without preliminary studies, limiting himself to hurried pencil sketches.

Justifying his method theoretically, the artist observed: "The movement of the elements cannot be directly captured by the brush-it is impossible to paint lightning, a gust of wind, or the splash of a wave, direct from nature. For that the artist must remember them..."
A photograph lacks the depth of the human element which is essential for art to be worthy of the name and distinct from expression. What does it mean to "remember?" Is it related to Plato's teaching of anamnesis?

Von Humboldt knew it which is why he wanted Church to go to the Andes and vivify through the human element in art what is hidden behind science.

You are not sensitive to these things. Some are.

davidm
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Re: What is art?

Post by davidm » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:47 pm

Here is a portrait by Franz Hals:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... ls_068.jpg

More than two centuries later, here is a portrait by Vincent Van Gogh:

https://dnq5fc8vfw3ev.cloudfront.net/th ... 1459229076

A couple of years after he painted the above, here is another Van Gogh portrait. Wow, what a difference! Seemingly! Yet there are also deep similarities.

https://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages ... 201888.jpg

Flash forward several decades to a portrait by Picasso:

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/ ... 010_10.jpg

Now here’s a relatively recent portrait by Lucien Freud, who died in 2011:

http://www.npg.org.uk/freudsite/images/hpimage.jpg

What’s going on here? How do these works relate to one another? Or fail to relate? What do they say about how art changes or stays the same over time?

Maybe to think about: Look at how many degrees of freedom —virtually limitless? — art has, when one refuses to straitjacket art into a pre-conceived notion of what art should be. Yet that said, I would suggest that there are profound underlying resonances between all these works, no matter how different they are.

Dubious
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Re: What is art?

Post by Dubious » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:12 pm

davidm wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:47 pm

Look at how many degrees of freedom —virtually limitless? — art has, when one refuses to straitjacket art into a pre-conceived notion of what art should be.
If that's what you believe, whether it be within the genres of portraiture or landscape or whatever, why "straitjacket" Church whom you qualify as being merely "technically brilliant" which usually translates to less of art and more of function? All of Picasso's paintings, btw, are also "genre" paintings specific to the age or intent. He just had more of them than Church and in that respect more universal. While your view of art makes sense, your conclusions on what doesn't conform to your sensibilities is in complete opposition to point you make!

Nick_A
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Re: What is art?

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:26 pm

davidm wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:47 pm
Here is a portrait by Franz Hals:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... ls_068.jpg

More than two centuries later, here is a portrait by Vincent Van Gogh:

https://dnq5fc8vfw3ev.cloudfront.net/th ... 1459229076

A couple of years after he painted the above, here is another Van Gogh portrait. Wow, what a difference! Seemingly! Yet there are also deep similarities.

https://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages ... 201888.jpg

Flash forward several decades to a portrait by Picasso:

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/ ... 010_10.jpg

Now here’s a relatively recent portrait by Lucien Freud, who died in 2011:

http://www.npg.org.uk/freudsite/images/hpimage.jpg

What’s going on here? How do these works relate to one another? Or fail to relate? What do they say about how art changes or stays the same over time?

Maybe to think about: Look at how many degrees of freedom —virtually limitless? — art has, when one refuses to straitjacket art into a pre-conceived notion of what art should be. Yet that said, I would suggest that there are profound underlying resonances between all these works, no matter how different they are.
So art for you is limitless expression. There is no objective distinction between art and expression. if a person calls their expression art, then it is art. What's wrong with this picture?

davidm
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Re: What is art?

Post by davidm » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:08 am

Nick_A wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:26 pm


So art for you is limitless expression.
I've already offered my definition of art.
There is no objective distinction between art and expression. if a person calls their expression art, then it is art. What's wrong with this picture?
I've already answered these questions, too. I'm not going to repeat myself. If you want to engage with me, go back and carefully read what I've already written.

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Greta
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Re: What is art?

Post by Greta » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:02 am

I was watching a documentary where a grouse species in Montana were shown practising their mating dance in the snow. Their performance in the spring when a female is around is critical, so they must refine what can be thought of as animal art - the art of dance. The females assess the dancers' efforts, presumably choosing based on signs of health, strength, vitality and good coordination.

Perhaps here we have objective art - where there are definite standards set with success and failure unequivocal.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:44 am

Greta wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:02 am
I was watching a documentary where a grouse species in Montana were shown practising their mating dance in the snow. Their performance in the spring when a female is around is critical, so they must refine what can be thought of as animal art - the art of dance. The females assess the dancers' efforts, presumably choosing based on signs of health, strength, vitality and good coordination.

Perhaps here we have objective art - where there are definite standards set with success and failure unequivocal.
I suggest at least a big quantitative difference between animals' learned behaviour and human art. Human art , unlike animal art, is mostly based in learned ideas which are transferred through time and space by means of human artefacts. Music and other performance art is most like animal behaviour;
however performance art, unlike animal behaviour, is cultural to an extent that other animals cannot do. I think other animals cannot do what we call art because humans adapt their behaviour via learned responses much more than other animals do.

Dance has evolved throughout the human past which it could not have done unless it had been a cultural artefact albeit a practical and oral one not enduringly recorded as picture, language or carving. The Montana grouse by contrast probably behave according to how their inherited genes make them behave. The grouse hen may transmit some learned behaviour to her fledglings . It seems unlikely that any behaviours learned by the fledglings change the general behaviour of the local species.

Having said all this I can perhaps be gainsaid by chaffinches the varieties of whose calls are localised more than natural selection would seem to cause.

Much is said about expressing feelings in art. If expressing feelings is the whole of art then I cannot see any difference between the 'art' of other animals and human art. But expressing feelings isn't the whole of art. Much of art is concerned with expressing social values. Expressing social values is what animals don't do very much of, as their social values depend (almost?) entirely upon natural selection.

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