martes, 17 de mayo de 2011

Familiarity (A. Danto)

"In 1910 and 1912, modernist painter and critic Roger Fry organized two notorious postimpressionist exhibitions at the Grafton Gallery in London. As it happens, the Bloomsbury circle, and Moore himself, praised the objective beauty of the unprecedented works on display in these exhibitions. But a great many professional art critics disagreed. The artistic representations so deviated from the motifs they transcribed that many viewers saw no way of dealing with them. "One gentleman," wrote Fry, "is so put to it to account for his own inability to understand these pictures that he is driven to the conclusion that it is a colossal hoax on the part of the organizers of the exhibition and myself in particular."

Attempting to explain the incapacity of such gentlemen to appreciate objective beauty, Fry blamed ignorance and unfamiliarity:

Almost without exception, they tacitly assume that the aim of art is imitative representation, yet none of them has tried to show any reason for such a curious proposition. A great deal has been said about these artists searching for the ugly instead of consoling us with beauty. They forget that every new work of creative design is ugly until it becomes beautiful; that we usually apply the word beautiful to those works of art in which familiarity has enabled us to grasp the unity easily, and that we find ugly those works in which we still perceive beauty only by an effort.

The perception of these artworks as ugly was, in effect, the projection onto them of a mental confusion that a course in aesthetic education will remove. [...]

But Fry himself made a mistake even more profound than those critics who supposed it was the aim of painting to imitate nature. His mistake was supposing it was the aim of painting to be beautiful.

I give Fry great credit for recognizing that something needed to be explained in order that those who scoffed might perceive the beauty of postimpressionist painting, but I draw special attention to the a priori view that the painting in question really was beautiful, if only viewers knew how to look at it."

Danto, Arthur C. "The Abuse of Beauty." Daedalus (The MIT Press) 131, no. 4 (2002): 41, 42.

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