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Art as Experience Paperback – July 5, 2005
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Dewey, however, certainly earns his title as a pragmatist. His wording is complicated and, at times, careful. It is difficult to pin specific sayings or doctrines to him. However, once the task is completed, he has a great deal of important things to say about art and artistic experience.
Dewey's pragmatic philosophy emphasizing social relations between humans was hugely influential in social sciences like sociology, where he clearly inspired writers like Erving Goffman and anthropology (see Roy Rappaport) His influence has been less notable in the field of aesthetics and art theory, and that's a shame, because in my mind, Art as Experience is the best book about the role of Art in human experience ever written.
Art as Experience starts from the observation that there can be no Art without an Audience- the two are intertwined because humans are social creatures and none of us exist in isolation. This statement about the nature of Art stands in direct contradiction to the two main schools of art philosophy: Classicism, which holds that Beauty is an objective truth that exists outside the experience of any single person and Romanticism, which postulates that the Artist stands alone in the world, without reference to his human environment.
Much of the argument of Art as Experience takes the form of the language philosophy strategy of being extremely precise about the terms being used. This gives the actual text of Art as Experience a tedious feel, even as the ideas expressed dance and sparkle with the light of discovery. Dewey works his way through defining, having an experience, the act of expression, the expressive object, substance and form, etc. I won't lie- it's dry. Boring even.Read more ›
The central theme is that life is an experience, and that the goal of art is to recapture that experience. Hence, a painting of a flower is only valuable in the way that it captures the essence of a flower, or the experience of viewing a flower. The viewing of a painting must also provide some of the experience of making that painting ( its process ).
If you can manage to finish the book ( the style is a bit archaic ), the experience is worth the effort.
A woman is sitting on a bench in a city park. She listens to the children playing on a nearby playground, she feels the sun on her skin, she watches attentively as people walk to and fro. She feels connected to everyone and everything; life has such fullness and she will remember this afternoon in the park for a long time. Then, after about an hour of this very rich experience, she takes out his flute and starts playing. Since she is a world-class flutist, her wonderful music attracts a number of people who stand around and listen to her play. After playing several pieces, she nods her head and puts away her flute. The small crowd applauds and walks off.
Dewey would say the woman’s first experience of sitting in silence, fully present and awake to the richness of what life offers, has a certain completeness and aesthetic quality. Her second experience of playing the flute and sharing her music is an extension and intensification of the first experience.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book on the philosophy, expression, and creation of art. This is not light reading, however.Published 12 months ago by J. Hanks
John Dewey (1859-1952) was an American philosopher (best known as a Pragmatist), psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas of “progressive education” have been very... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Steven H Propp
The most unexpected and enjoyable book. Must read small amounts to get all the information.Published 19 months ago by Terri A. Rice