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Assess the claim that 'we value art because it expresses the feelings of the artist'. (30)

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Introduction

Assess the claim that 'we value art because it expresses the feelings of the artist'. (30) The theory that we value art because it expresses the feelings of the artist is one held by those who believe in what is called 'emotivism' - art is valued because of its emotional impact (on the audience), whether that comes from our own personal reaction, the artwork acting as a 'container' for the artists emotion (implying that the emotion we feel is the same as the artists upon creation) or the artwork 'capturing' the emotion by sharing what it is like to feel it (like a metaphor). According to this theory, a 'good' artist is in touch with their emotions and can channel them [into artwork]. We feel our emotion when we experience artwork, and good artworks are those which give us an effective feeling. These emotions are the same as emotions that we may feel elsewhere in life, but art somehow uses them in a different way. Aristotle raises the idea of catharsis, which is the idea that we (us personally and the artist) ...read more.

Middle

He used Jung and Freud's ideas of the subconscious in order to portray pure emotion, not one particular emotion but just emotion as a whole. It does not portray any objects, as he did whatever he felt like at the time, with him suggesting it was his subconscious emotion that created said work of art. However, this theory is questionable. Is it really the self expression of the artist we value? It can be difficult to create a link between the artists' emotions and ours. How can we be sure that we are experiencing the same emotion as the artist initially felt? Even if we both feel sad, is it the same sadness? Wimsatt and Beardsley's The Intention Fallacy argues that we should never even take the intentions of the artist into account when we judge an artwork; all that matters is our own response. They stated that "the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a literary work of art". This means that we can not be sure we are experiencing the same emotion as the artist initially felt, and even if we could it is not desirable anyway. ...read more.

Conclusion

Emotivism seems to provide a good and strong theory as to why we value art - simply because it allows us to feel and express emotion, and that 'good' art is art that expresses an emotion and moves us in a particular way. It seems a credible theory with regard to the real world, it makes sense that we would enjoy and appreciate a piece of artwork because it gives us a particular feeling, whether that be happy or sad - however like all theories it has its weaknesses, it may not be the artist's self-expression we value, our responses to the artwork may also not be the focus of our appreciation either, as it may remind us of a particular event or someone. Not all art is necessarily emotional like abstract minimalistic art, and possibly most importantly, emotion is essentially subjective so it is not an effective base for judging whether artwork is 'good' or 'bad' because everybody will feel differently dependent on their particular emotions; emotivism may provide useful in explaining why different people value pieces of art but not with regard to society as a whole. ...read more.

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