1 The expression theory of art has assumed many forms. These changes of appearance have been necessitated by the inadequacy of its original leading idea. This maintains that the creator of a work of art undergoes an experience which he wishes to transmit or communicate to others. He wishes to communicate the experience to others in the sense that he wishes others also to undergo the experience; and to this end he creates or imagines an object which is or can be made perceptible—a painted canvas, a complex of musical sounds, a structure of words—and which is so designed as to make it possible for someone who experiences the object in the right manner thereby to undergo the very experience the artist intended to transmit. His experience is inside him; in order to make it available to others he must externalise it; and by expressing it he hopes to pass it on to others. To the extent that the artist is successful in his enterprise, and in so far as the experience he communicates is worth experiencing, the work of art he creates is valuable.
Tolstoy put forward a theory of just this kind in What is Art?:
To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced and having evoked it in oneself then by means of movements, lines, colours, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others experience the same feeling—this is the activity of art.
Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them. 1
And for Tolstoy it is the best and highest feelings that are expressed in
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Publication information: Book title: Music and the Emotions:The Philosophical Theories. Contributors: Malcolm Budd - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1985. Page number: 121.
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