Friday, October 29, 2010

Art as experience

John Dewey (1859-1952)

'When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in experience, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance, with which esthetic theory deals. Art is remitted to a separate realm, where it is cut off from that association with the materials and aims of every other form of human effort, undergoing, and achievement. A primary task is thus imposed upon one who undertakes to write upon the philosophy of the fine arts. This task is to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience.'
John Dewey, Art As Experience (1934), New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1980, 3.

'The origin of art is not to be found in the desire to become housed in a museum. Instead, art originates when life becomes fulfilled in moments of intelligently heightened vitality. When the potentialities of experience are intentionally utilized toward such a complete end, the sense of its own meaning becomes intrinsically present as a consummation of the event. This is what Dewey calls "an experience." In an experience, we genuinely come to inhabit the world; we dwell within the world and appropriate it in its meaning. The human impulsion for meaning and value is manifestly fulfilled.'
Thomas M. Alexander, John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience, and Nature: the Horizons of Feeling, Albany: State University of New York Press, c1987, xix.

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