Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

In his 1914 essay, “The Aesthetic Hypothesis,” Clive Bell distinguishes between “life emotion” and “aesthetic emotion.”  Here’s an excerpt:

“Representation is not of necessity baneful, and highly realistic forms may be extremely significant.  Very often, however representation is a sign of weakness in an artist.  A painter too feeble to create forms that provoke more than a little aesthetic emotion will try to eke that little out by suggesting the emotions of life.  To evoke the emotions of life he must use representation. Thus a man will paint an execution, and, fearing to miss with his first barrel or significant form, will try to hit with his second by raising an emotion of fear or pity.  But if in the artist an inclination to play upon the emotions of life is often the sign of a flickering inspiration, in the spectator a tendency to seek, behind form, the emotions of life is a sign of defective sensibility always.  It means that his aesthetic emotions are weak or, at any rate, imperfect.  Before a work of art people who feel little or no emotion for pure form find themselves at a loss. They are deaf men at a concert.  They know that they are in the presence of something great, but they lack the power of apprehending it.  They know that they ought to feel for it a tremendous emotion, but it happens that the particular kind of emotion it can raise is one that they can feel hardly or not at all.  And so they read into the forms of the work those facts and ideas for which they are capable of feeling emotion, and feel for them the emotions that they can feel—ordinary emotions of life.  When confronted by a picture, instinctively they refer back its forms to the world from which they came.  They treat created form as though it were imitated form, a picture as though it were a photograph.  Instead of going out on the stream of art into the new world of aesthetic experience, they turn a sharp corner and come straight home to the world of human interests. For them the significance of a work of art depends on what they bring to it;  no new thing is added to their lives, only the old material is stirred.  A good work of art carries a person who is capable of appreciating it out of life into ecstasy;  to use art as a means to emotions of life is to use a telescope for reading the news.  You will notice that people who cannot feel pure aesthetic emotions remember pictures by their subjects, whereas people who can, as often as not, have no idea what the subject of a picture is.  They have never noticed the representative element, and so when they discuss pictures they talk about the shapes of forms and the relations and quantities of colours.  Often they can tell by the quality of a single line whether or not a man is a good artist.  They are concerned only with lines and colours, their relations and quantities and qualities;  but from these they win an emotion more profound and far more sublime than any that can be given by the description of facts and ideas.”

Clive Bell (1881-1964) was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and the husband of Vanessa Bell (neé Stephens), the sister of Virginia Woolf.  As an art critic he promoted the concept of “significant form.”

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com 

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

The filmmaker Raúl Ruiz says that in telling a story, the story doesn’t come first.  Nor the concept.  What comes first is an image and then another image and another and out of these images a narrative emerges.  He adds that this is not a principle for everyone but this is his working theory.  (If you haven’t seen any of Ruiz’s films, you may want to start with Klimt, 2006.)

The English philosopher Roger Scruton, whose conservatism is as unappealing to me as his name, has a worthwhile insight into the process of art making:  “Expression is not so much a matter of finding the symbol for a subjective feeling, as of coming to know, through the act of expression, just what the feeling is.  Expression is part of the realization of the inner life, the making intelligible what is otherwise ineffable and confused.  An artist who could already identify the feeling which he sought to express might indeed approach his work in the spirit of a craftsman, applying some body of techniques which tell him what he must do to express that particular feeling.  But then he would not need those techniques, for if he can identify the feeling it is because he has already expressed it. Expression is not, therefore, an activity whose goal can be defined prior to its achievement. “  (The Aesthetics of Architecture, p.7)

Above, a large painting in progress in my Impressions of Landscape class, by Peter H.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

If the question posed in the previous post seems simpleminded—of course it’s not art, it’s only an illustration!—then why do all beginning painters and limners get obsessed with illustrating what they see? And more often than not they get stuck in that obsession.

Just this morning, a student (in a painting class that I was subbing for) complained to me that she’s been working representationally for five years and now she can’t get herself out of that way of seeing.  That’s her first false assumption.  Her second false assumption came in what she said next:  I can’t get my painting to look the way I want it to look.

1) Well, you can find a new way of seeing.   The way out of old habits is to adopt a new working PROCESS.

2) You don’t know ahead of time what your painting will look like.  That’s because you’re not coloring in the lines, you are going with a PROCESS.

Picasso put it this way:  “A picture is not thought out and settled beforehand.  While it is being done it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it is finished, it still goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.  A picture lives a life like a living creature, undergoing the changes imposed on us by our life from day to day.  This is natural enough, as the picture lives only through the man who is looking at it.”  (From Christian Zervos’ “Conversations with Picasso,” 1935.)

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts