Unblinking Eye
                                The Nature of Art


[Art as Feeling, Significant Form, Life as Art]

  • Peasant Girl in Santa TepepaArt: what is articulated and has import.  (Langer, Feeling and Form, p. 31)
  • “Yet the arts themselves exhibit a striking unity and logic…” (Susanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form, p. 4.)
  • “The basic concept is the articulate but non-discursive form having import without conventional reference, and therefore presenting itself not as a symbol in the ordinary sense, but as a “significant form,” in which the factor of significance is not logically discriminated, but is felt as a quality rather than recognized as a function. If this basic concept be applicable to all products of what we call “the arts,” …then all the essential propositions in the theory of music may be extended to the other arts, for they all define or elucidate the nature of the symbol and its import.”  (Feeling and Form, p.32)
  • “Bell’s assertion that every theory of art must begin with the contemplation of “the aesthetic emotion,” and that, indeed, nothing else is really the business of aesthetics, seems to me entirely wrong.  To dwell on one’s state of mind in the presence of a work does not further one’s understanding of the work and its value. The question of what gives one the emotion is exactly the question of what makes the object artistic; and that, to my mind, is where philosophical art theory begins.”  (Feeling and Form, p. 34)
  • “…we might do better to look upon the art object as something in its own right, with properties independent of our prepared reactions—properties which command our reactions, and make art the autonomous and essential factor that it is in every human culture. The concept of significant form as an articulate expression of feeling, reflecting the verbally ineffable and therefore unknown forms of sentience, offers at least a starting point for such inquiries.”  (Feeling and Form, p. 39)
  • “…all making of expressive form is a craft.  Therefore the normal evolution of art is in close association with practical skills—building, ceramics, weaving, carving, and magical practices of which the average civilized person no longer knows the importance…” (Feeling and Form, pp. 39-40)
  • “…I will make bold to offer a definition of art, which serves to distinguish a “work of art” from anything else in the world, and at the same time to show why, and how, a utilitarian object may be also a work of art; and how a work of so-called “pure” art may fail of its purpose and be simply bad…. It serves, moreover, to establish the relation of art to physical skill, or making, on the one hand, and to feeling and expression on the other. Here is the tentative definition…: Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling.”  (Feeling and Form, p. 40)
  • “An artifact as such is merely a combination of material parts, or a modification of a natural object to suit human purposes. It is not a creation, but an arrangement of given factors. A work of art, on the other hand, is more than an “arrangement” of given things—even qualitative things.  Something emerges from the arrangement of tones or colors, which was not there before, and this, rather than the arranged material, is the symbol of sentience.” (Feeling and Form, p. 40)
  • “…the true power of the image lies in the fact that it is an abstraction, a symbol, the bearer of an idea.”  (Feeling and Form, p. 47)


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