Defining Art Appreciation

By Seabolt, Betty Oliver | Art Education, July 2001 | Go to article overview

Defining Art Appreciation


Seabolt, Betty Oliver, Art Education


Students are introduced to the study of art in a course called Art Appreciation, but there is little agreement on what "art appreciation" is or what the goals of a such a course should be. Is it a chronological study of masterpieces or the ability to know the difference between good and bad art? Is it a skill or a state of mind? Is it cognitive knowledge or affective involvement or both? Is the goal to produce student connoisseurs of great works of art or to teach cultured conversational skills? There is much confusion of art appreciation with art history, art aesthetics, and art criticism, but each of these areas is distinctly different, and each has different goals. This article attempts to clarify the differences and explore the changing definition of art appreciation.

The National Committee for Standards in the Arts (1994) defines aesthetics as "a branch of philosophy that focuses on the nature of beauty, the nature and value of art, and the inquiry processes and human responses associated with those topics" (p. 82). Lankford (1992) describes aesthetics as "concepts and methods in the philosophy of art, including inquiry aimed at describing and comprehending aesthetic experience as it is related to artistic processes and products" (p.5). More simply, aesthetics is a general body of knowledge and inquiry about the nature of art. Art history, as defined by the National Committee for Standards in the Arts (1994), is "a record of the visual arts, incorporating information, interpretations, and judgments about art objects, artists, and conceptual influences on developments in the visual arts" (p. 28). According to Ralph Smith (1993), art history is the study of the continuity and changes of art from caves to present. like studio art, art criticism is a skill that can be learned and must be practiced, states Tom Anderson (1991). An observer enters into a direct personal encounter with a work of art to seek its meaning, resulting in an interpretation and possibly an evaluation and judgment of the work (Anderson). Feldman's (1994) definition is "spoken or written 'talk' about art" (p. 1). In short, aesthetics is defined as a body of knowledge and inquiry about the nature of art.

Art history is a body of knowledge and study of specific works of arts and their relationship to other works and to the chronological period and cultural milieu in which they were created. Art criticism is the activity of talking about art. On the other hand, appreciation of art is both an act and a state of understanding and enjoying art, according to Harold Osborne (1970), who borrows the definition from Thomas Munro. Art appreciation, both affective and cognitive, engages emotions and feelings about art while knowing and understanding develop. Appreciation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (1989), is "perception; recognition; intelligent notice... perception of delicate impressions or distinctions" (p. 581). Johnson (1989) cites several other definitions: Clive Bell's (1913) definition as "sensitive and emotionally-tinged percipience," John Dewey's (1934) definition as "aesthetic perception," and Thomas Munro's (1941) as "understanding and enjoying" (Johnson, p. 24). This simple and direct description of Munro seems most appropriate for defining the activity of appreciation.

Historically, art appreciation has not always been defined as understanding and enjoying art and consequently has not been taught with those goals in mind. Michael (1991) describes the history of art in public school education as alternating between a student-centered nature approach, emphasizing the student's participation in creative experiences, and a subject-centered nurture approach, emphasizing the teacher's role in imparting certain information. These nature and nurture categories offer a useful means of comparing and contrasting early methods of teaching art appreciation with current methodology while exploring the changing roles of teacher and student.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Defining Art Appreciation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.