By Cynthia Freeland
From Andy Warhol's Brillo bins to provocative dung-splattered madonnas, in brand new artwork global many unusual, even stunning, issues are wear demonstrate. This frequently leads exasperated audience to exclaim--is this rather paintings?
In this worthy primer on aesthetics, Freeland explains why innovation and controversy are so hugely valued in paintings, weaving jointly philosophy and artwork conception with many engrossing examples. Writing in actual fact and perceptively, she explores the cultural meanings of artwork in numerous contexts, and highlights the continuities of culture that reach from glossy, frequently sensational, works again to the traditional halls of the Parthenon, to the medieval cathedral of Chartres, and to African nkisi nkondi fetish statues. She explores the problems of interpretation, examines contemporary medical learn into the methods the mind perceives paintings, and appears to the still-emerging worlds of paintings on the net, video artwork, artwork museum CD-ROMS, and lots more and plenty extra. moreover, Freeland courses us in the course of the a variety of theorists of paintings, from Aristotle and Kant to Baudrillard. finally, all through this nuanced account of theories, artists, and works, Freeland presents us with a wealthy figuring out of the way cultural value is captured in a actual medium, and why hard our perceptions is, and consistently has been, vital to the total exercise.
It is instructive to keep in mind that Henri Matisse himself was once initially derided as a "wild beast." To horrified critics, his daring shades and distorted varieties have been outrageous. A century later, what used to be surprising is now thought of appealing. And that, writes Freeland, is artwork.
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Extra resources for But Is It Art?: An Introduction to Art Theory
This brief art historical detour enables us to draw a positive conclusion about Serrano’s claim to regard Goya as a forebear whose images combine beauty with great violence. Remember that such a comparison is a part of Lucy Lippard’s defence of Serrano’s often troubling images. Of course, a detractor might say that Goya is different from Serrano because his artistic ability was greater, and because he depicted violence not to sensationalize it or to shock people but precisely in order to condemn it.
There, at least the bloody scenes of martyred saints or torments of sinners at the Last Judgement were wonderfully painted, with a clear moral aim (just as the horrors of ancient tragedy were depicted through inspiring poetry). Similarly, some critics of contemporary 7 blood and beauty art feel that if a body is to be shown nude, it should resemble Botticelli’s Venus or Michelangelo’s David. These critics seemed unable to ﬁnd either beauty or morality in Serrano’s infamous photograph Piss Christ (see Plate I).
In the sculptures and windows of Chartres, the placement of ﬁgures or scenes showed how each story was related to others. Pythagoras and Aristotle appeared in the portal columns underneath statues devoted to Mary, showing that the Liberal Arts (and their respective ﬁelds of geometry and rhetorical persuasion) must support and be mastered by theology. Similarly, a stained-glass window showing the story of the Good Samaritan was related both to an Old Testament story told below it and to a depiction of Jesus above, with a strict order of reading from bottom to top and from left to right.