Art Matters by Peter de Bolla

By Peter de Bolla

Within the face of an outstanding murals, we so usually stand mute, struck dumb. is that this a function—perhaps the 1st and foremost—of aesthetic event? Or will we lack the phrases to claim what we believe? Countering present assumptions that paintings is valued in simple terms in line with flavor or ideology, Peter de Bolla supplies a voice—and vocabulary—to the beauty artwork can encourage. operating towards a greater realizing of what it's to be profoundly moved through a piece of artwork, he forces us to re-examine the significance of artwork works and the singular nature and price of our adventure of them. in lots of methods a "practical aesthetics," paintings issues proceeds in terms of instance. via chapters getting to 3 works of art—Barnett Newman's portray Vir Heroicus Sublimis, pianist Glenn Gould's moment recording of Bach's Goldberg adaptations, and William Wordsworth's poem "We Are Seven"—de Bolla plots a private heritage of aesthetic event that opens up the final different types of paintings appreciation. His booklet invitations us to a better come upon with paintings, and to a deeper appreciation and clearer expression of what such an stumble upon may possibly carry. (20011101)

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Compared with the canvases Rothko painted from about 1950 onward, say, Red, Brown, and Black of 1958 (Figure 5), which also hangs in MoMA, Newman’s vast painting seems to inhabit a different world, and this is so even though at first glance it would appear to share certain surface similarities with Rothko’s “color field” pictures—the apparent removal of the basic building blocks of Western representational painting: drawing, unilinear perspective, composition, narrative incident, vraisemblance. Most viewers find Rothko’s paintings emotionally engaging if not draining (this is certainly enhanced by knowledge of the painter’s life and eventual suicide), full of warmth, passion, and above all open to the viewer.

By “pressing hard” I mean to suggest what I hope will be recognized as a refusal to give over my exploration of aesthetic experience to an inarticulate or inarticulable feeling; still less to an unreflective or “emotive” response. The history of literary criticism certainly includes both “harder” and “softer” versions of the emotive, as do commentaries and appreciations of the other fine arts. Indeed, a particular form of this line of inquiry, known as “personal criticism,” has recently emerged in academic discussion of literature and the arts more generally, but this book is not intended as a contribution to that discussion.

But the question here is, How much does one need to know? And, just as important, how much does knowing such things also block or prevent one from seeing, hearing, or reading? Although I believe that training the eye or ear can be very helpful, I will nevertheless temper this observation by insisting throughout this book that the extent of that training, or what it might consist in, is to a great extent indicated by the work itself. Given that, as I have already said, we only come to know the work through the material of our affective experience of it, it follows that such indication in fact comes from our aesthetic encounter with the artwork.

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