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Modern Views on Aesthetics and Art Report

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Updated: Oct 18th, 2021

In this essay, our task is to present modern views on aesthetics and art. We are going to discuss various standpoints as to this issue. In particular, this paper will focus on such prominent art historians as Monroe Beardsley, Peg Zeglin Brand, Collingwood, Paul Mattick, Robert Solomon., Umberto Eco, and Suzanne Langer. In addition to that, we must form our conclusion, judging from what we have learned.

First, we are going to discuss the ideas of a famous Italian writer, philologist, and historian Umberto Eco. According to him, we live in the so-called “era of repetition. The author argues that to some extent present pop culture reminds mass production. Therefore, it cannot even be called art, because art has to be unique. Moreover, Umberto Eco states that present-day art is full of archetypical images. He takes as an example various detective novels, such characters as Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot have become so orthodox, that every deviation from this tradition results in our bewilderment and perplexity (p. 343). It should be mentioned that the famous novel “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco is a brilliant parody of such repetition in art.

He also mentions that such “serialized production” is often imposed on us under various disguises. The writer says that very often products of modern media culture are offered to us as something original, however, it is just another variation of the same scheme. In his view, the preference is always given to the traditional scheme, because otherwise, the product will not sell well. He defines the present-day culture of “post post-modernism”

In this essay, we are going to present another view as such notion as art and aesthetics. The ideas, expressed by Monroe Beardsley can be of great interest to us. First, the famous art historian states that works of art are always dynamic, although he avoids using such a term as “a work of art”. The philosopher substantiates his argument in the following way. First, he mentions that our perception of art always varies therefore everything that has artistic qualities, cannot be static. However, he also emphasizes the fact that every work of art, especially if we treat it as some physical object, can be either singular or multiple.

Regarding singular works of art, Monroe Beardsley mentions dance. He thinks that this kind of art has dual nature. On the one hand, it is some set of movements, which have to render a certain meaning, but on the other hand, every dance can be performed uniquely. His views as to the dual nature of art are very interesting, because, they throw new light on this issue (p. 242).

Peg Zeglin Brand represents a feminist approach to art in general and literature in particular. She believes that it is hardly possible to objectively evaluate a work of art, since every person is biased in his judgment, especially if we are speaking gender relationships. In addition to that, she believes that as a rule every work of art is “marked by ideology”, for example, gender roles stereotypes. Peg Brand believes that to interpret art, we should get rid of the deep-rooted archetypical schemes that we always try to follow (p. 494).

The author often refers to the famous representative of the feminist approach, Elaine Showalter. Peg Brand agrees with the statement, that the roles of women in many works of literature should be reconsidered, in particular in terms of their social status. The author believes that the roles of men should also be reviewed, within the context of stereotypical male behavior. Overall Peg Brand believes that literary critics should pay more attention to these issues. In her opinion, it will only improve the quality of literary interpretation and criticism.

Robert Solomon in his article dedicated to Kitsch, which is often viewed as a degeneration of the present-day culture, states that it also has a right to be called art. Despite the widely held opinion that kitsch is only imitation or even mockery of true art, the author argues that we should not disregard or reject it. Kitsch is often viewed as vulgarized art, usually with a popular or sentimental appeal. However, Robert Solomon states that it reflects the peculiarities of our modernistic or even post-modernistic consciousness. Additionally, he states that Kitsch allows us to better evaluate true art because the comparison has always been an expedient way to fo find out the truth.

Robert Solomon believes that the main purpose of Kitsch art (if such formulation is possible) is to move us, invoke our most intimate feelings. He says that we tend to dissociate ourselves from Kitsch because we cannot admit that such unsophisticated art can appeal to us, which is of course hypocrisy.

Robert Collingwoods work, which is called “The Poetic Expression of Emotions” proves that the process or writing (it does not only goes for) is very often predetermined by some unconscious stimuli. Moreover, the author states that a poet (or writer) does not always take into account the needs of the target audience if any. To some extent, his views and ideas represent a modernistic approach to literature and art. According to post-modernism, any work of art is viewed as a “stream of consciousness”, aimed only at expressing one’s most intimate emotions.

Representatives of such approach in literature believed that art must not be tailored according to the needs of the audience, because otherwise, it ceases to be art. It is impossible to accommodate every work of literature to the likes and dislikes of people. It can eventually turn into a product of mass production. However, Robert Collingwood says that an artist must be able to convey his meaning to the public. His main point is that art should not be adapted to the needs of the majority, because such adaptation will squeeze the life out of it.

In the article “Virtual Space”, Susan Langer analyzes how space is used in various kinds of art such as sculpture, painting, theatre, and literature. She argues that space has to affect various senses. Moreover, Susan Langer believes that virtual space must conjure up various feelings, or probably it would be better to say associations. The author gives several examples: the Temple of Poseidon, which creates the illusion of power and supremacy (122).

In her view, it is not always possible to associate space with the feeling that it arouses. She believes that it is often determined by our subconsciousness. In addition to that, such an association cannot be logically explained. We should mention that there are many things in art, that cannot be logically explained, and space is not an exception to this rule.

Paul Matticks article “Art and Taxes” analyzes the most peculiar features of post-modernistic art. The author believes that post-modernistic artist has many peculiar features, especially if we are speaking about his attitude towards the process of creation.

Paul Mattick stresses the idea that present-day art is always self-centered, which means that the present-day artist always tries to suit himself or herself, however, at the same time he or she attempts to find a customer who buys his or her product. We may observe a very curious conflict between art and mass production. The author believes that in the overwhelming majority of cases the preference is given to mass production. Commercialization of art can only have detrimental effects on the process of creation (p. 521).

He argues that in “pre-modern times” art was elitist, which means that it was accessible only to a very restricted group of people, whereas now it is often oversimplified to suit the needs of the majority, which eventually leads to degeneration. In his view, we are standing on the verge of a new era in art, but probably we fail to notice it. Post-modernism may eventually evolve into something new.

Thus, having analyzed the views of these art historians and writers, we may conclude that present-day art begins to acquire some new features, such as commercialization and serialization. We may say that the conflict between finance and art is also very noticeable nowadays.


“Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of the Arts State”, Palgrave, 2007

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