Philosophical Art

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
Belinda
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Re: Philosophical Art

Post by Belinda » July 22nd, 2015, 8:21 am

My vote: anatomical drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci.

These drawings are not only informational and skilful but also express the pathos of the people who modelled for them.
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Greta
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Re: Philosophical Art

Post by Greta » July 22nd, 2015, 8:36 am

Greta wrote:John Cage's 4'33" is a philosophical work that requires no language (although it can incidentally include or incorporate language).

To be fair, before the concept - the philosophy of the piece - was explained to me in words I considered it to be an "emperor's new clothes" stunt, absurd. However, others immediately understood 4'33"'s meditative message.
3uGH7D4MLj wrote:ok. You may be right. It is an unforgettable piece, and you may never be the same after hearing it, but is that philosophy?

How do you see it as philosophical? Questioning everything like Descartes?
John Cage believed that sound was inherently beautiful. He was also a meditator. The point of the piece was to get people to quieten their minds, to really listen, to understand that silence doesn't exist and instead there is the "perpetual music of life" (my term, for want of something better coming to mind).

-- Updated 22 Jul 2015, 07:46 to add the following --

Interesting visual art examples, Lucy and Belinda. Historical works have the added poignancy of speaking to us from another time.

This video, P. Pacificus eats C. elegans - set to an exceptionally dramatic string piece - always has a strangely affecting impact on me - the unseen life and death dramas that play out at every level of life.
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Re: Philosophical Art

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » July 22nd, 2015, 9:35 am

Greta wrote:John Cage believed that sound was inherently beautiful. He was also a meditator. The point of the piece was to get people to quieten their minds, to really listen, to understand that silence doesn't exist and instead there is the "perpetual music of life" (my term, for want of something better coming to mind).
ok, I'm getting buried under an avalanche of "philosophical" art.

On the Rothko, you've used a lot of words, quotes from art critics, etc. What about the encounter with the actual piece? Isn't that enough? Isn't the philosophical content obvious without all the explanatory verbiage?

What if you know nothing about Rothko's esthetic, or spirituality, (or really stretching, his philosophy), what is a person to make of his fuzzy lozenges? I know what it is for me, he offers a bridge, a non-verbal experience, an invitation to reverie or rapture. But that experience is my own.

The Durer drawings? historical, anthropological, skillful, actually they're incredible. But philosophical?

The J. Cage piece is far too wonderful to explain. Please not another word.

Philosophy that considers art is fine, but philosophical art isn't for me.

To each his own, of course. All I'm saying is that personally, I enjoy philosophy, and art, but each in a different way.

-- Updated July 22nd, 2015, 8:45 am to add the following --
Greta wrote:John Cage believed that sound was inherently beautiful. He was also a meditator. The point of the piece was to get people to quieten their minds, to really listen, to understand that silence doesn't exist and instead there is the "perpetual music of life" (my term, for want of something better coming to mind).
If you think you get the point of the piece, you are no longer experiencing art.

Encountering an artwork expecting philosophy is like swimming while holding a cement block.
fair to say

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Re: Philosophical Art

Post by Lucylu » July 22nd, 2015, 12:44 pm

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:What if you know nothing about Rothko's esthetic, or spirituality, (or really stretching, his philosophy), what is a person to make of his fuzzy lozenges? I know what it is for me, he offers a bridge, a non-verbal experience, an invitation to reverie or rapture. But that experience is my own.
I would prefer to let the art speak for itself also. However, as we are not standing in front of a Rothko (sadly) I am reduced to explaining what I mean through 'verbiage' which is ultimately frustrating and less than the reality. I only offered a real art critics words as I was never very good at art history!

My point is, academic study may be especially associated with philosophy but it doesn't have the monopoly and I don't think it has the right to think itself superior to other forms of expression.

It seems that you are not alone in your personal reaction which speaks to why Rothko is considered a great artist; he seems to have conveyed something very powerful through his art which creates, as you say, an experience for the viewer. What better way to communicate than to offer the experience itself rather than a comment on that experience? A cynic may say that his work is just blobs of colour that a three year old could do and in my opinion that would be their loss. Similarly, an autistic person would feel nothing in the face of such abstract work.

Rothko himself said painting was a 'religious' experience for him, many have been brought to tears by his work, and it seems that if you (a person who is admittedly reticent of attributing any deeper meaning to art) can also find his work 'an invitation to reverie' then it seems he did somehow tap in to a universal truth which he could communicate in a much deeper way than language.

And what better way to communicate who we are and what we feel, in the hope that others may understand? If we are looking for a truly universal language surely we would have to look to mathematics, science, and art rather than an esoteric piece of 'verbiage' that not even everyone on Earth can understand or agree with. We put a lot of science, maths, real life photos and music into the Voyager but no art at all. I just think that's strange. Why would music be felt to say more than visual art?

I don't know- maybe I've twisted two different themes together. It wouldn't be the first time! :D

-- Updated July 22nd, 2015, 6:56 pm to add the following --

*Edit*- 2nd paragraph, I've mixed up my nouns.

"Philosophy may be especially associated with academic study but..."

This point, in addition to my earlier point, that if a work is a conscious expression of the nature of existence then it must be philosophy, are central. I don't see why intellectual intelligence/ expression should be prized over artistic or emotional intelligence or why an academic man should be thought to understand reality any more than a man who's never read Descartes. That seems like elitism to me.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts". -Bertrand Russell

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Re: Philosophical Art

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » July 22nd, 2015, 3:22 pm

Belinda wrote:My vote: anatomical drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci.

These drawings are not only informational and skilful but also express the pathos of the people who modelled for them.
You got me looking through some of this work, incredible!

-- Updated July 23rd, 2015, 9:58 am to add the following --
Lucylu wrote:This point, in addition to my earlier point, that if a work is a conscious expression of the nature of existence then it must be philosophy, are central. I don't see why intellectual intelligence/ expression should be prized over artistic or emotional intelligence or why an academic man should be thought to understand reality any more than a man who's never read Descartes. That seems like elitism to me.
This may be about the definition of philosophy. To me, philosophy is what Bertrand Russell does. It consists of words that consider what it means to know something. Is morality relative? What is Truth?

You can't do that with emotional intelligence. The glow you get from being with a Rothko painting doesn't give you that. You sort of do have to read Descartes.

-- Updated July 23rd, 2015, 10:06 am to add the following --
Lucylu wrote:My point is, academic study may be especially associated with philosophy but it doesn't have the monopoly and I don't think it has the right to think itself superior to other forms of expression.
Are you thinking that philosophy is superior to art?
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Re: Philosophical Art

Post by Atreyu » July 24th, 2015, 9:09 pm

Lucylu wrote:After reading the thread 'philosophical films', I thought it might be fun to also hear what everyone considers to be great works of art or art of great philosophical meaning.

In 1977 the Voyager spacecraft set off with the Golden Record which contained sounds, photos, greetings and music from Earth but, as far as I can find out, it did not include any visual artwork. This seems a pity but I suppose there was a concern that this may give a false impression of what life is like on Earth.

Anyway, regardless of this concern, I thought it might be nice to imagine what art work you would choose to send out in to space to exhibit the heights of artistic achievement and possibly ones which say something fundamental about life. I'm thinking of paintings/ drawings/ sculpture rather than film but all thoughts welcome.
Mainly, I would pick various works of ancient art, such as ancient Buddha statues, Stonehenge, the pyramids, the Sphinx, and other such works. I would not call such works of art "philosophical", but rather, "objective". Ancient works of art such as those listed above are more "scientific" in nature than contemporary art, meaning that they are attempts to convey knowledge, and not just any "knowledge", but "cosmic knowledge" - knowledge about the Universe, Man, and their relation (akin to modern cosmology and psychology)....

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