So this book is about Art Criticism, and the author talked about the Art half and the Criticism half. What I wrote here is basically a little summary of this book and a lot of questions raised by this this book.
Author first claimed what art is, started from 1950s to 1960s. As what author stated, 「at that time, some philosophers of art believed that meta-criticism was the central topic of philosophical aesthetics.」 But still there was a lot of problems existed in that period of time, one of which is: 「If you could not define art, how could you hope to develop a philosophy of art?」
Well, this sounds familiar to me, because I remember in the previous readings I have discussed art and its definition, from which I concluded that it is not possible, at least not easy to define art, which is paradoxical to what my understanding was that everything in this world would be definable, if not, it does not exist.」 So what can I conclude since there is a paradox that both sides seem to be right in the real life? Why art does exist but is not explanatory.
As I concluded before, people can easily define each specific presentation of art, like Mona Lisa the drawing, I can say it is a painting, it is colorful, it is a female portrait, something like this. But when it comes to the aggregation of art, the statement of art seems expand in an endless dimension, in which it is far beyond the aggregation of the definition of each specific art presentation. So what is the problem? I would like to try answering it but apparently I cannot answer it on my own.
In the book 「What is Art」 written by Leo Tolstoy, a Russian writer, he advances some ideas that against the popular definition of art at that time, by which art is defined in terms of good, truth and beauty. Tolstoy thinks that 「Art must create a specific emotional link between artist and audience, one that 「affects」 the viewer. Thus, real art requires the capacity to united people via communication (clearness and genuineness are therefore crucial values.)」 He also expands it to what exactly a work of art is, believing that 「the concept of art embraces any human activity in which one emitter, by means of external signs, transmits previously experienced feelings.」 He also offers an example of this: 「a boy that has experienced fear after an encounter with a wolf later relates that experience, infecting the hearers and compelling them to feel the same fear that he had experienced—that is a perfect example of a work of art. As communication, this is good art, because it is clear, it is sincere, and it is singular (focused on one emotion).」
However, for me, I feel like it is apparently not the precise definition of art, because what he said is too narrow that only a few criteria are used to define such an abstract word. Is art that just related to human activity a good art? Or how to define if it is good or not? Although what Tolstoy defines is a competitive definition against popular aesthetic theories at that time, it still lacks of respects, or dimensions that could better 「recap」 what art is. Still I am struggling about this.
I realized it is kind of digressed