Aesthetics and Meaning must harmonize in fine art

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Aesthetics and Meaning must harmonize in fine art

From Brian Shapiro

Published before 2005


But then I am probably the only voice on Goodart that believes that there is absolutely no connection between aesthetic quality and realism. (So some items can be very realistic and have no aesthetic quality - like portraits in the wax museum - while other items can have high aesthetic value and resemble nothing other than themselves - like Japanese ceramic tea pots).

I believe in what I call a 'cognitive' theory of aesthetics, where the mind understands things as beautiful where entities or partial entities establish a relationship of harmony with eachother. This means that while in a realist painting there can be found beauty in the line, form, and color; there also can be found beauty in the relationships between representational objects; and similarly in the way that the basic elements of form and color relate to the representational objects. Finally, an painting is not only understood within its internal relationships, but also with its relationships to the ideas that were meant to be expressed in it. True profundity in a painted image, I believe, is when all of these elements of the artwork align themselves harmoniously to create something that is articulate, expressive, evocative, and meaningful. In architecture, where there is little or no representation, the basic forms should, in part, build up to express the functionality, and also the cultural environment. While I find abstract forms quite pleasing -- and can definitely tell the difference between one which is not made well and one which is 'artistically designed' -- it is my view that realistic representation is most effective at conveying complex ideas in a beautiful manner.

-- Brian Shapiro