All posts by JJAK

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.


Art Imitates Life

“Personal experience is a most vicious and limited circle. All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life, and I feel sure that if you think seriously about it you will find that it is true. Life holds the mirror up to Art, and either reproduces some strange type imagined by painter or sculptor, or realizes in fact what has been dreamed in fiction. Scientifically speaking, the basis of life— the energy of life, as Aristotle would call it—is simply the desire for expression, and Art is always presenting various forms through which this expression can be attained. Life seizes on them and uses them, even if they be to her own hurt. Young men have committed suicide because Rolla did so, have died by their own hand because by his own hand Werther died. Think of what we owe to the imitation of Christ, of what we owe to the imitation of Cæsar.”

Wilde, Oscar. Intentions: The Decay of Lying. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. 39-40. eBook.

I thought this was so interesting because I never looked at it from the perspective of life imitating art. I always considered art to be a reflection of what was happening in the individual’s life and the world around them. I don’t necessarily fully agree with what he’s saying but after having looked at the topic from this perspective, I believe that they may influence each other rather than one controlling the other. I do believe that a fundamental basis of life is the desire for expression and so in that way, art if life. But I also think that it depends on the individual. Some people do believe that art if life as well as a reflection and influencer and so they may agree that art is life. However there are also people who do not believe that art has that big of an impact on their lives.