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What is the aesthetic goal of plastic art?


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#1    coberst

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 07:12 PM

What is the aesthetic goal of plastic art?

Quickies from Wiki:
“Plastic arts are those visual arts that involve the use of materials that can be molded or modulated in some way, often in three dimensions. Examples are clay, paint and plaster.”
Aesthetics is commonly known as the study of sensory values. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature”.  

The art historian is led to conclude that primitive humanity was impressed with the theosophical mystical insight view of reality, i.e. that underlying visible nature there must be a superior driving force; they imagined this force must have a human like form since they could not imagine a form any greater than the human form.  This human world view moved from infinite polytheism to anthropological polytheism to present day anthropological monotheism.

“Whereas infinite polytheism presupposed a corresponding number of autonomous forces underlying the diverse phenomena of nature reformed polytheism perceived numerous natural phenomena as embodiments of one and the same power.  Monotheism brought this refinement process to its culmination by establishing a single force as the original agent of all phenomena.”

How did antique wo/man approach an art form in which they considered that nature revealed “to the human eye only those aspects that are essential, random, and transitory, then art must create for them the essential, the meaningful, and the eternal parts”?

Riegl informs me that “the human hand fashions works from lifeless matter according to the same formal principles as nature does”.  All human art production is at its core “nothing other than a contest with nature…The history of art is the history of the creative human being’s victories as he competes with nature.”  

The human urge to create visual art is not the desire to imitate nature but it is a desire to compete with and to expose the essential aspects of nature.  “Behind every work of art, then, we must presuppose the presence of a work of nature (or several such) with which the work of art is designed to compete.”  Art is the means to accomplish the primary aesthetic goal of competing with nature while satisfying the inner urge to comprehend nature.  

Art is meant to reveal the “essential, the meaningful, the eternal parts” of nature.
  In doing so wo/man judged that “only the perfect is entitled to exist in art”.  Since in nature only the strongest prevailed so then in art only the perfect and the strong must prevail.


Quotes from Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts by Alois Riegl





#2    Bunny Munro

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:54 AM

I think we use art because in art we can attempt to create perfection free from the burdens, short comings  and imperfections of nature and we are able to aim to create something which is a perfect manifestation of whatever it is the author attempts to illuminate, a perfect manifestation which does not and in all chances of likelihood will not occur in nature. Art gives us the chance to create the ideal (although ironically the ideal may be filled with imperfections), a chance which nature and life does not give us, or gives us very seldom.

I hope I haven't completely misinterpreted the purpose of your topic and I applaud you for posting such wonderful topics that I hope to post in once I've given them the degree of thought which they require, I just hope I'm not too far out of my depths in attempting to understand and answer them.  I've been looking froward to finding such questions on this forum for a long time, well done.

Grant me this at least, man differs more from man than man from beast....


#3    marsapien

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:48 AM

Starbelly... on Jul 19 2009, 07:54 PM, said:

I think we use art because in art we can attempt to create perfection free from the burdens, short comings  and imperfections of nature and we are able to aim to create something which is a perfect manifestation of whatever it is the author attempts to illuminate, a perfect manifestation which does not and in all chances of likelihood will not occur in nature. Art gives us the chance to create the ideal (although ironically the ideal may be filled with imperfections), a chance which nature and life does not give us, or gives us very seldom.

I hope I haven't completely misinterpreted the purpose of your topic and I applaud you for posting such wonderful topics that I hope to post in once I've given them the degree of thought which they require, I just hope I'm not too far out of my depths in attempting to understand and answer them.  I've been looking froward to finding such questions on this forum for a long time, well done.


To add to that starbelly I would say art allows the practitioner to recreate the emotions and visualization of what we most desire or have become fixated on...perhaps we do this in order to release the burden of carrying it around. The fixation grows to the point where it needs to be expressed from our thought to matter this can be in the form of carving ,clay and writting, or drawing whatever best represents what it is that needs to be expressed on a material level it nags upon you until you act on it and when you act on it you perfect it to resemble exactly how it is on an inner level...When it comes to cultural or spiritual level perhaps those forces some times drive some artist but not all.
I don't believe it to be a contest with nature or a conqering of the natural world but a contest with the self and the spirit and your own mind.

Edited by marsapien, 19 July 2009 - 10:49 AM.


#4    Bunny Munro

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 11:05 AM

I agree, I think most involved in creative fields that involve introspective expression will say that there is something cathartic about materializing the immaterial.

Grant me this at least, man differs more from man than man from beast....


#5    coberst

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 12:12 PM

Starbelly... on Jul 19 2009, 09:54 AM, said:

I think we use art because in art we can attempt to create perfection free from the burdens, short comings  and imperfections of nature and we are able to aim to create something which is a perfect manifestation of whatever it is the author attempts to illuminate, a perfect manifestation which does not and in all chances of likelihood will not occur in nature. Art gives us the chance to create the ideal (although ironically the ideal may be filled with imperfections), a chance which nature and life does not give us, or gives us very seldom.

I hope I haven't completely misinterpreted the purpose of your topic and I applaud you for posting such wonderful topics that I hope to post in once I've given them the degree of thought which they require, I just hope I'm not too far out of my depths in attempting to understand and answer them.  I've been looking froward to finding such questions on this forum for a long time, well done.


You are approaching this in the manner that I had hoped all viewers would.  I write in the first case because I use writing as a learning aid.  Secondly I post what I write because it is generally about an important idea that I am trying to learn and about which I want to introduce to the viewer.  I hope that the viewer will become curious enough to go to the books or to the Internet to learn about the matter and perhaps to come back later and post in response what they have learned.


#6    coberst

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 12:15 PM

I am informed that art is functional, decorative, or conceptual.  There seems to be an unresolved argument among art historians as to which type came first in the life of the human species.   I would think that functional would be first followed by decorative and followed by conceptual.  

If we look at a vase we see it as first being designed and built as a practical need which then might have led some individuals to decorate it to give it an aesthetic appeal.  At some later time the anxiety created by the knowledge of mortality drove them to concentrate upon the conceptual need to repress that anxiety.



#7    marsapien

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 01:00 PM

coberst on Jul 19 2009, 10:15 PM, said:

I am informed that art is functional, decorative, or conceptual.  There seems to be an unresolved argument among art historians as to which type came first in the life of the human species.   I would think that functional would be first followed by decorative and followed by conceptual.  

If we look at a vase we see it as first being designed and built as a practical need which then might have led some individuals to decorate it to give it an aesthetic appeal.  At some later time the anxiety created by the knowledge of mortality drove them to concentrate upon the conceptual need to repress that anxiety.

This seems to ring true when you put your mind to it.
For the order of needs come into play, survival, status, and wisdom.
Survival you could imagine the time spent to make an arrow or spear straight and sharp so that it is functional in order to feed and survive.
Decrotive would be part of status where the Shaman of a tribe will use trinkets and carvings to present his omnipotance almost.
And wisdom we see the conceptual side of art the documentation of there legacy almost on a cave wall.
It is interesting to note in these early periods of the human species that once the basic needs were in place they had more time to express in the forms of art.


#8    Lt_Ripley

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 04:43 PM

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ugh.....art is what it is. not a competition with nature . not always something useful or pretty that matches the couch. Art is , no matter what the media used , communication. Be it subject or emotion.

As an artist I don't always sculpt or paint a subject matter that is pleasing to anyone. Often it's very unsettling. Like the sculpted torso to mid thigh of a woman placed in an iron skillet and all of it  painted fire engine red.  a piece that hung.  ( A Woman's Place ... 1995) sorry no picks and I'm no longer the owner.

The goal of art is to communicate. nothing more or less. Even if that communication is only with ourselves.  Composition , balance , ect ........ all details , rules that aren't set in stone.


Every good painter paints what he is.
Jackson Pollock

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
Pablo Picasso

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Aristotle

The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in congress.
Hendrik Willem Van Loon

The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.
Jerzy Kosinski

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.
Jonathan Swift

Edited by Lt_Ripley, 19 July 2009 - 04:47 PM.


#9    coberst

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 11:35 AM

marsapien on Jul 19 2009, 01:00 PM, said:

This seems to ring true when you put your mind to it.


It is interesting to note in these early periods of the human species that once the basic needs were in place they had more time to express in the forms of art.


It appears that Maslow's hierarchy of needs makes sense.





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