Two Perspectives / by Sarah Palmeri

  TRU , Sarah Palmeri, 16 x 11 inches, oil on magazine spread, 2016

TRU, Sarah Palmeri, 16 x 11 inches, oil on magazine spread, 2016

An excerpt from Form and Feeling by Susanne K. Langer:

The general disorder of our intellectual stock in trade in the realm of aesthetics is further aggravated by the fact that there are two opposite perspectives from which every work of art may be viewed: that of its author and that of its spectators (or hearers, or readers, as the case may be). One perspective presents it as an expression, the other as an impression. From the former standpoint one naturally asks: "What moves an artist to compose his work, what goes into it, what (if anything) does he mean by it?" From the latter, on the other hand, the immediate question is: "What do works of art do, or mean, to us?" This question is the more usual, even in serious theoretical thought, because more people are beholders of art than makers of it, and this counts for philosophers as well as any unselected public. Most aestheticians can treat the problem of artistic impression more authoritatively than that of expression; when they talk about the moods and inspirations of artists, or speculate on the sources and motives of any particular work, they leave the straight and narrow path of intellectual conscience and often let a quite irresponsible fancy roam.