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Painting, aesthetics of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-M048-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved July 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Why care about painting as an art? Does it offer to engage our aesthetic interest in ways that other art forms do not, or does it merely reproduce the aesthetic satisfactions they provide? Most paintings involve both marks on a surface, and something represented by those marks. Some attempts to say what is distinctive about painting concentrate on the former feature, understanding the art as an exploration of the two-dimensional picture plane. Others concentrate on the representational aspect, seeking to find something special about the things painting can represent, or the way in which it achieves this. The most promising approaches acknowledge both aspects, and do so as essential elements in the experiencewe have of painting. One such approach turns on the idea that the configurational aspect ‘inflects’ the representational, so that what we see in the picture itself somehow involves the marks from which the painting is composed. Another sees painting as offering aesthetic values found elsewhere, but in a distinctive form. Taking seriously the idea of our experience of painting also helps us to say something about a set of paintings we are otherwise in danger of ignoring - abstract works.

Citing this article:
Hopkins, Robert. Painting, aesthetics of, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-M048-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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