Artistic expression

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M020-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 21, 2021, from

7. The value of artistic expressiveness

Expressiveness in art is usually thought to be value-conferring. Sometimes its value is described as instrumental – art is a source of knowledge about and mastery of the emotions, and is the more useful for presenting or arousing these in contexts that lack ‘life implications’, thereby permitting us to contemplate and savour their natures. The value of artistic expressiveness is also intrinsic in that it contributes to and is an aspect of narrative, depictive, formal and sensuous elements that together provide an integrated entity, the appreciation and understanding of which is pleasurable. Art’s expressiveness is an invitation to engagement; a person’s recognition of and response to its expressiveness can be as revealing of their understanding as would be their dispassionate description of the piece. In its expressiveness, art might best be regarded not as a mirror of life, a lesson on it or a preparation for it, but as a celebration of its affective side.

Citing this article:
Davies, Stephen. The value of artistic expressiveness. Artistic expression, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M020-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

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