Art Theories

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  • Created by: Josephine
  • Created on: 25-05-15 16:14
Theory 1: Art as Ritual
Social rationale= Art supports social ritual. The viewer of the art is like a participant in this ritual. Traditionally linked with relationship with god and religion. Community/nature is described and reinforced. Integrated identity is generally
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Theory 1: Art as Ritual
associated with higher levels of overall well-being (Phinney et al, 2001): know in psychology that affiliation in a group is beneficial for mental health.
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Theory 2: Art is Imitation (Mimesis)
Art is imitation of of nature including human life in all forms. We make art to represent the world.
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Mimesis and Plato
Plato believed that mimesis was a bad idea because nature is imperfect and art should depict ideal world. Should aspire to the ideal. Adverts to this e.g. the perfect family.
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Mimesis and Aristotle
Aristotle disagreed with Plato and defended Mimesis. We should portray real world so we can understand and relate. Purpose is to teach us morals- real world depiction is useful.
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Mimesis: Death and Life (1916) by Gustav Klimt
Death is leering from the side in the form of a robed skeleton approaching a family ranging from baby to mother. All are grouped together full of life and love, unconcerned by death. Nice message about family love and support but not denying the
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Idealism: E.g. Birth of Venus (1486) by Botticelli
existence of death or our immortality. Venus stood on an open shell, dream like scene. More recently adverts are idealistic using editing and airbrushing. Also barbies, unrealistic standards.
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Realism: E.g. The Conjurer (1502) by Bosch
Painting of a man being distracted by a magic trick whilst young boy is seen stealing from his bag, Teaches a moral people can relate to
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Theory 3: Art Requires Community (Social Process)
Sociological view: Art is an expression of the community, can only create and appreciate art when part of a community.
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Community: Dewey (1934)
Art is an expression of life in the community. Requires knowledge (Hume)
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Community: Anderson
Art must have culturally sig. meaning.
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Community: Danto
Art relies on shared theory of art (cohorts cultural understanding of symbols and signs)
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Community: Bourdieu
We like art because it helps define us, puts us in social place. Defines you for yourself and to your peers.
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All these ideas state that community defines and drives response to art. Different to rituals as not saying what to do. etc. However doesn't say really why how it works or why matters.
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Theory 4: Expression Theory
Art is the expression of emotion. This is the basis of art therapy (term coined by Hill in 1942, form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication and expression). Value in expressing emotion for artists and viewer. Art
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Expression Theory
reflects inner psychological drives (Freud and Jung). Related to this is sublimation: the artist expresses deep subconscious emotion when creating art.
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Expression Theory: Problem with this...
Pieces of art can take many months and emotional state cant be sustained for that long. Have to conjure up the same emotional state each time. However in terms of viewing art a piece or art could conjure same emotions each time you view it, trigger
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Theory 5: Pragmatism (Cognitive Theory)
William James (cognitive psychologist) and also related to ideas from John Dewey. We like to know the truth, like resolving ambiguity. Like art because it teaches us, and we gain value. Knowledge is instrumental, if acted upon can achieve positive
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value outcomes. Art promotes knowledge and can be used for gain (emotional, social, semantic, perceptual pleasure). Fits well into learning theory and reward mechanisms.
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Pragmatism: Social Learning Theory
Artists make art because socially and materially rewarded. Viewers appreciate (like or dislike art because socially rewarded for doing so)
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Theory 1: Art as Ritual


associated with higher levels of overall well-being (Phinney et al, 2001): know in psychology that affiliation in a group is beneficial for mental health.

Card 3


Theory 2: Art is Imitation (Mimesis)


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Card 4


Mimesis and Plato


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Card 5


Mimesis and Aristotle


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