I have been recently thinking about the idea of art as being defined by the conveyance of solid or specific emotion as opposed to being created with simple “loving care. ” Are these ideas in opposition or in agreement?
There has been the argument that true art should convey or inspire emotion. In the end, it was Cezanne, the father of Modern art, who once famously stated, “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. ” Tolstoy took up this refrain with his guide “What is Art. ” In it he states, “To evoke within oneself a feeling one has once skilled, and having evoked it within oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms indicated in words, so to transmit that will feeling that others may go through the same feeling – this is the activity of art. “1 Tolstoy attempted to expand the idea of what art is. He felt that the concept of art covered a range of human experiences that straight transmits an emotion from the musician to the audience. Tolstoy’s example was the story of a boy who has the frightening experience with a wolf after which relates the story to an audience, filling up the audience with the same concern that he felt. For Tolstoy, this is actually the essence of art. The information is clear and expresses a specific feelings. This would then seem to imply that art which does not evoke feelings/emotions is not art. Can this be genuine?
I am thinking of the Greeks which chose to imitate nature with their statues. If you look at early Greek sculpture from the Archaic era, you notice the particular works are not full of emotion. The expressions are flat and the stances are stiff. Is this then not really art? Is it simply to be grouped as craft or artifact? Exactly what of a well constructed hand tossed burl bowl? Is it so hard to assume and describe this work as a piece of art? The same could be said of the fine handmade chair or a blown glass vase or even a pleasant panorama painting. None of these things seem to communicate or express great emotion, but neither are they simply pretty objects. There is more to them than that. When done well, they call to us and beckon all of us towards a greater beauty that exists within them. I may not feel passion or rage, jealousy, adore, or any other definable emotion whenever viewing such works, but my own eyes do linger on the curves, textures, and other visual elements in order to experience their beauty. Often , in doing this, I am able to connect with the inventor of the work and experience a sense of humanity in a way that I don’t whenever viewing other, more mundane factors. Despite a certain lack of emotion inside the work, I feel certain I am however experiencing art.
I submit that for an object or thing to be called art, it need not exhibit a specific strong emotion, as Tolstoy would have us believe. Rather, items or things that are to be considered art may exhibit two qualities in order to earn that title. That is, the quality of conveying a sense of being done “with loving care” and the quality of having been completed with the intent to generate art. If the work follows such criteria, a more subtle form of feelings is transmitted to the work.
We are all familiar with the term, “done with loving care. ” It conveys a feeling of having completed an action along with deliberation or concentration beyond the ordinary. It denotes a level of presence, concern and craftsmanship by the person performing the operation that is over and above simply that of attempting to finish a task. A parent may prepare a soups for the family dinner. A novel reader may tend to a bed, or perhaps a sculptor may carve a piece of stone, all with loving care. Within doing so, the human spirit is transmitted through the action and into the thing being acted upon. The fact of that tranny is that it can be witnessed and experienced by those who come upon the completed work. The soup contains a delicious quality and beauty that is savored by the family. The garden acquires the peaceful aspect to it, and the veggies grow well.
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The sculpture retains within it a sense of form, consistency, and line that the gaze remains upon and calls to the viewer to engage it.
Of course , cooking a soup or gardening is not exactly like creating a piece of art. One may say the particular soup tastes wonderful or the backyard is very pretty, but one would not, generally, say that either are works of art (although I do not rule out that either could be considered art underneath the proper circumstances). This is where intent is necessary. Intent is the desire and objective in making a work of art, or instead to make something that can stand alone as a beautiful creation. It is the deliberate actions taken to make art. For example , a wood carver when creating a bowl intends to create a beautiful bowl and also to create it with as much attractiveness as he is able. The carver designs the bowl and decorates it with loving care along with the intention of creating a work that can standalone as a beautiful object. Thus, when we see the finished work, our eyes linger on it, and we feel a feeling of wellbeing in doing so. We connect with the bowl beyond its functional purpose and see it as artwork. We are able to sense the artist’s caring care and his intent.
This leads back to Cezanne’s statement, “A work of art that does not begin in emotion is not art. ” What does it indicate to both create a work with adoring care as well as with the intent to produce art? Is that not the appearance of emotion? The term, “with adoring care, ” assumes that really like is part of the activity, and love, after all, is certainly an emotion and a lot more. An artist may have love with regard to his materials or his subject matter. He may find that, in working with his hands, he becomes more conscious of himself or his humanity. This type of emotion, however , is subtle, and the word “love” in this sense is not really so easily classified. Love in this case is not the same as the love we now have for a spouse, nor is it the love we have for a child. Nor is it the all-fulfilling love one seems from a religious perspective. This enjoy is a quieter emotion. Perhaps the simplest way to describe it is as the quiet pleasure of creating. The making of art often requires repetitive movements and is an absorbing experience. It usually requires a calm and thoughtful mind. I myself feel at peacefulness when making art. It becomes a noiseless and meditative moment in an or else busy day. That quiet pleasure, however , is emotion, and, mentioned previously above, the act of creating with this particular sense of loving care transmits itself into the thing being developed. One could then say that the Greek Kouros, the wooden bowl, the handmade chair, the vase, as well as the painting did all begin with feelings. In being present while operating and investing the work with loving care, one is working with emotion, and perhaps, after all, it is that aspect which usually we are responding to when a work calls to us as art.