The Artistic Battleground
by Dean Michael Gores
Art is a physical/concrete version of the artists ideas. Art makes abstract ideas concrete, in whatever form the artist chooses. Art can come in many forms including painting, sculpture, clothing, and architecture.
|"The Thinker" by Auguste Rodin|
What does Philosophy have to do with art? Philosophy comes in when we ask, "What is the purpose of art?" or "What is it good for?" The philosophy of Objectivism answers these questions. Objectivism's morality is based on an individual's own life. That which promotes his life is deemed good, that which harms his life is deemed bad.
Below I have gathered a collection of art, showing examples of both harmful and life affirming art. I discuss the details of their constituents, and infer what ideas they are an abstraction of.
|How can art harm a man's life? At first this question seems preposterous. Art in itself doesn't literally physically attack anyone, steal, murder, etc, so what can be bad about art? The answer is that art can spread harmful ideas, attacking a man's ability to think and enjoy life. Below are two examples of art from Post-Modern and Gothic movements.|
Above is "Passion" by Geert Maas. It's a sculpture of an extremely disfigured woman, lying on a cracked stump-like pedestal, wrapped loosely by a bent pole. It has absolutely nothing to do with the emotion "passion". Its only purpose is to destroy the meaning of the word "passion". In the case of Post-Modern art, the subject is praised like it is some kind of great achievement-- when really the "artist" framed the result of his defecation. When you decide whether you like a piece of art, you are making a value judgment. Post-Modern art promotes that we value a thing for no reason.
|"Passion" by Geert Maas|
Gothic art abstracts ideas of suffering, death, disease, and deformation. Above is "The Broken Column" by Frida Kahlo. It's an image of a woman with a broken column for a backbone, her body torn through the center, pelted with nails, wrapped with straight-jacket straps. The landscape is layers of dry and wet mud. The sky is a windy, dreary purple. When a person adopts this viewpoint of themselves, their life becomes an expanse of suffering. The Gothic movement is one that is generally harmful to man, one that glamorizes and praises destruction.
|"The Broken Column" by Frida Kahlo|
Life Affirming Art
|How can art promote a man's life? It can promote it by giving him a sense of beauty, happiness, self-worth, and achievement. Below are three examples of art from the romantic and |
romantic realism movements.
The artist can render an image of beauty, which may sooth, awe, or bring happiness to the beholder. Above is "Magnolias on a Blue Velvet Cloth" by Martin Johnson Heade. It's an oil painting, with a bright Magnolia in full bloom resting on a vibrant blue velvet cloth. The flower has nine large white petals, a yellow-gray pistil, and lush green leaves.
|"Magnolias on a Blue Velvet Cloth" by Martin Johnson Heade|
The artist can abstract a moral concept into a sculpture. Above is the Statue of Liberty. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi created a woman, 46 meters tall, thrusting a torch into the air with her right arm, holding close to her body a tablet, which reads "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI", the date Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The torch serves as a lighthouse, guiding new arrivals from foreign lands to the home of freedom.
|"Liberty Enlightening the World" by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi|
The artist can capture a revolutionary achievement of a man, to remind us of the great achievement and encourage our current work. This is "Young Builder" by Bryan Larsen. It features a young woman building a tower with blocks much taller than herself. Her face displays a sense of pride and confidence. The background is a large window, with clean metallic skyscrapers reflecting the orange morning sunlight. The ground out of sight, indicating that the child is on an upper level of a sky scraper herself.
|"Young Builder" by Bryan Larsen|
ConclusionKnowing that nothing can be intrinsically deemed good or bad, you may be astonished to hear an Objectivist declare, "This art is good." or "This art is bad." Yet, when we analyze pieces of art, we can come to such conclusions, in respect to our own lives. Movements of art such as Post-Modernism and Goth promote destruction of ideas and decadence. Romantic and romantic realism promote ideas uplifting and useful to a man.
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