Art and Pleasure
Posted in Art in General, Werby’s Q and A on Techniques
Q:Can I expect to get pleasure from art, like I get from music?
A:Pleasure is indeed one thing one can obtain from art, although some artists are consciously trying to give pleasure, while others reject it, and attempt to arouse other emotions, stir political feelings, or even evoke pain.
But art is an acquired taste; as with many drugs, it takes a while to become addicted. If pleasure is what you are looking for, try seeking out the art that gives you the most, then, if you feel you can handle it, gradually increase the dosage by looking at even more. You may find that works which previously gave you a real kick begin to pall; then you start seeking stronger stuff, ultimately finding satisfaction in works which you previously never would have thought pleasurable.
The experience of loving art is also directly parallel to the love of music—give it some effort, then you find yourself drawn in. This will vary by individual temperament—many people never know what they are missing, or in spite of exerting effort, they never really get it. Others become totally obsessed. Then there are those who get satisfaction from hating it—it takes all kinds…
by Andrew Werby
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Clockwise from upper left: a self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh; a female ancestor figure by a Chokwe artist; detail from the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli; and a Japanese Shisa lion.
Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities, usually involving imaginative or technical skill. In their most general form these activities include the production of works of art, the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art. This article focuses primarily on the visual arts, which includes the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. Architecture is often included as one of the visual arts; however, like the decorative arts, it involves the creation of objects where the practical considerations of use are essential—in a way that they usually are not in a painting, for example. Music, theatre, film, dance, and other performing arts, as well as literature and other media such as interactive media, are included in a broader definition of art or the arts. Until the 17th century, art referred to any skill or mastery and was not differentiated from crafts or sciences. In modern usage after the 17th century, where aesthetic considerations are paramount, the fine arts are separated and distinguished from acquired skills in general, such as the decorative or applied arts.
Art may be characterized in terms of mimesis (its representation of reality), expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities. During the Romantic period, art came to be seen as "a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science". Though the definition of what constitutes art is disputed and has changed over time, general descriptions mention an idea of imaginative or technical skill stemming from human agency and creation.
The nature of art, and related concepts such as creativity and interpretation, are explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.
Art criticism and the pleasure principle
By Jonathan Jones Wednesday 11 January 2012 10.34 EST
Walter Pater was one of the most honest critics to ever have lived. In his book The Renaissance, this Victorian scholar says something subtly disturbing to many people who love the arts. The purpose of criticism, he argues, is to identity and understand the particular types of pleasure that works of art can give us.
Pleasure! This is something few critics have ever been prepared to be so open about. Art, in a philistine world, is forever fighting its corner. Arts administrators resisting cuts feel obliged to insist on the deeper value of art, its use to society, its ennobling purposes. Artists themselves, when interviewed, also want to come across as serious people doing something of immense political and cultural importance. Only rarely does an artist reject the idea of social and spiritual purpose – as Bob Dylan does in the 1967 film Don't Look Back, when he sneers at journalists asking him to explain his "message".
Pater was art's bravest whistleblower. He said frankly that works of art exist to give us pleasure, just like wines, or divans, or tobacco, or whatever else filled the archetypal Victorian aesthete's boudoir.
It's time for me to come clean, too. The reason I write about art is because it gives me so much pleasure. I delight in art. It is a drink, a feast. And this is the true reason why, much of the time, I choose to stress the great paintings and sculptures of history. This isn't some cliched juxtaposing of figurative art and conceptualism – just a recognition that if you are looking at and writing about art every day you may as well explore the headiest flavours, the richest recipes. If you were a professional food critic, would you want to write about crisps – or haute cuisine? Great paintings that have stood the trust of time are like wines that have matured for centuries.
If the most profound pleasures are afforded by a Titian, however, new art too looks very different to the aesthete. Forget, for a moment, all the chatter about social purpose and serious meaning. Look at today's art from the point of view of pleasure. What looks best? Well, you'll get something like the eclectic mix of contemporary artists whose works I most enjoy. The cocksure concoctions ofDamien Hirst, the sensual sophistication of Cy Twombly, the sexuality of Lucian Freud, the cheek of Jeff Koons, the beauty of Richard Wright, the generosity ofMartin Creed and the audacity of Tracey Emin – these are pleasures, not duties.
Art that feels like a duty is probably bad art. But most of the art industry is geared towards foisting that kind of art on us. Bad art changes over the centuries far less than we think. Today's theory-heavy video installations are often modern equivalents of pompous and moralising Victorian paintings. It's the joyous, uninhibited art that truly matters – and this is what keeps me hooked.