reply to post by Illusionsaregrander
Hi Illusions -
The issue is the fact that, alas, there is no 'real or pure or permanent objective 'scietific' standards' for any of the Arts in existence - and there
never really was - whether literary, graphic, musical etc. despite the attempts of e.g. the ancient Greeks (e.g. Aristotle in his discussion on
'Drama', for example) to try and formulate mathematical/scientific bases for 'artistic judgment and worth...' or other great thinkers like Leonardo
da Vinci (see his unffinished notes on his planned 'Treatise on Painting' from around 1496, where taste and science are treated as a very nebulous
combination of ideas).
I have noticed that in this world there are 'theorists' on Art and 'doers' of Art - and rarely do the two understand each other. The 'doers' are
mainly instinctual - 'Those who cannot do, teach' etc.
We note that in the Attwood Papers (1785-1787) the great composer Mozart (who like most Composers, was more of a Doer than a Dry Theorist), who
often spoke such sentiments to his pupil Thomas Attwood from England who had studied with the master in Vienna from August 1st 1785 to Feb 20 1787 :
Thos. Attwood related this story years later: 'Herr Mozard used to correct my daily Exercises for him by crossing out what I wrote and writing the
better version above it. One day he said to me -
' My Very Dear Attvott, I am no Theorist - If I see some Thing that seems wrong, I don't show what Rule is broken - I immediately know eactly how
to fix it and do it at once (as you see) - I do not recommend, mein Freund, my own Skolars engage in Dry Study [i.e. of Theory] - it will only confuse
und ruin his ability to compose Catileina [melody], the Herz und Seele of Musick ...and if he [should] make an Error, there will All Ways be several
Maestri who can point out his Mistake to him...'
Throughout history there have been many thoughtful (e.g. philosophically-minded) persons in the world who have come up with compendia or various ideas
to elucidate what are called 'general artistic system standards' (e.g. in Music, we see Fux' Gradus ad Parnassum from the year 1725--who was reacting
against what he termed 'stylistic abuses' in what was 'modern musick' in his own day (he targeted mainly opera singers and composers) - what he wanted
to do was to attempt to consolidate the long-evolving musical 'system of belief of past masters, especially his own musical hero from 200 years
earlier, 'Palestrina, the Light from Praneste') - but like Josef Fux states, when it comes to the subject of artistic 'Taste' (see his discussion 'De
Gustu' when he quotes the famous Axiom of Cicero etal 'de gustibus non disputandum est' meaning, roughly, . 'when it comes to Taste, there can be no
[coherent] Argument...' in other words, 'for people who like that sort of thing, that's the sort of thing they like...'
Josef Fux seemed very frustrated when he saw that people of his own time in Vienna when it came to 'Musick' seemed to like what they liked 'just
because they liked it', and could not offer any coherent systematic reasons for their liking it - he noted that all sorts of people tended to be moved
by very different artistic things for no apparent coherent logical or systematic reason (at least, according to his methodolgical mind)...
Fux then goes on to list various types of persons who like different types of Musick, much of it which appeared to him to be just so much random noise
e.g. 'I know of one individual who ended up living in his home made tree-house and soon became utterly enraptured by the chirping sounds of all the
birds he heard there - and who before long, refused to listen to any other sounds than birdcalls - yet this same man could not be emotionally affected
by what we call Instrumental or vocal Musick - however beautiful it may seem to others...)
Abstract Art is a reaction to the camera, apparently, which made portrait painting (or any kind of realism-literalism) more or less obsolete to many
minds back in the 1890s and later - although to me the Painter or sculptor can do many more subtle things that a camera cannot produce, even so called
'literalistically-realistically' generated paintings).
When one says 'all you have to do is study the masters and you can derive your Rules from them', one sometimes gets clogged up by terms and
expressions such as 'Who exactly are the Masters' and 'Why is this master considered a master and not that other one...' and 'what criteria are used
to determine what exactly is masterful' in the Arts and once that is decided upon (if ever !!), then what we find is that 'any exact rules' the
'master' actually 'follows' are often countered by so many 'exceptions to the Rule' that we're back to square one again in terms of actual definitions
For me, I hold to the Theory that : 'I cannot any more tell you what Great Art is any more than a Dog can tell you what a Cat is ... but he'd know it
when he saw it !!' (the axiom attributed to Samuel Johnson by his friend James Boswell)
Perhaps being 'exposed' to what the Ages have determined to be Great Art (and this is a moving target) might give the student more insight into what
goes into making something great than theorists and their tiresome lists of Rules that must never be broken - all the great masters broke established
Rules - all the time - but I suppose it's how they broke them that sets them apart from the common herd !
edit on 26-5-2011 by Sigismundus because: Typing tooo fast can be hazardous to your Theoretical English Spelling 'Methodology'....