A theory of art: inexhaustibility by contrast by Stephen David Ross

By Stephen David Ross

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In two instances, however, the debt is too great to acknowledge in passing. 1 The systematic theory at the foundation of my analysis of art is based on Metaphysics of Natural Complexes, though I take full responsibility for its presentation here and for my differences with Buchler. 2 The general theory of judgment from which I depart is to be found in Toward a General Theory of Human Judgment, though I have made significant revisions in Buchler's analysis. 4 Our views are similar in some fundamental respects, but they appear to follow from very different conceptions of artistic value.

Many works are not obviously mimetic; more important, the faithfulness of representational works is seldom of primary artistic value. A great portrait by Hals or Rembrandt conveys a striking sense of character. Yet it may not be the character of the model. Is a portrait the less for misrepresenting its subject? Perhaps for a time; certainly not for posterity. Even if it is the feelings of the artist which are to be represented or expressed, it is not the accuracy of representation which is of importance, but the strength of conviction, the firmness of impulse.

7 A scene to be rendered faithfully will always have much more in it than is reproducible in any medium. The problem is one of representation in a particular respect rather than in another. "Why should not the painter be able to imitate the colors of any object if the maker of wax images manages this trick so well? ''8 Similarly, Henri Pirenne argues that successful illusion in painting depends on peripheral awareness of the plane surface. Only when the perspectivic illusion of the painting is so perfect that it makes the painting appear three-dimensional, does skew viewing produce a distortion of appearance.

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