The Partial Functions of Art

The citizen who, in everyday life has been reduced to a partial function (means-end activity) can be discovered in art as ‘human being’. Here one can unfold the abundance of one’s talents, though with the proviso that this sphere remain strictly separate from the praxis of life.

Burger, Peter. “The Theory of the Avant-Garde.” Theory of History and Literature. Vol. 4. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1984. 47-54. Print.

I found this very interesting because although in the passage, the author is talking specifically about bourgeoisie art, I think it holds true for the other two types as well. Sacral art allows us to connect with religious images because they are represented as human. The artist tries to depict familiar relationships like that between Jesus and Mary or Jesus and his disciples at the last supper. It is difficult for people to imagine a divine figure as human because of everything He represents however art has made it easier. And so someone who is not exactly human in our minds becomes human through art. Likewise, courtly images help people imagine royalty as human-like because otherwise, they seem like distant historical figures to us and for the people of the time, distant rulers they have probably never seen. Art however helps them become familiar faces and ‘human’ rather than faceless people whose only physical attributes we can assign are being covered in jewels and rich cloth as we would perceive them to be. I think all art involving images of people, whether divine or royal or or just average helps us relate to them in that we can imagine them and perceive them as human.