Origins of Art: A Psychological & Sociological Inquiry

By Yrjö J. Hirn | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XI
THE CONCRETE ORIGINS OF ART

By explaining the art-impulse as a form of social expression we have accounted for art-creation and art-enjoyment as activities which have their end in themselves. The emotionalistic interpretation supplied us with a principle, which we were able to apply to all stages, the lower as well as the higher, of art-development. Without committing ourselves to any definite statements as to the purely æsthetic and autotelic character of the individual works of art, we felt ourselves to be right in assuming that a desire of "expression for its own sake," or rather for the sake of its immediately enhancing or relieving effects on feeling, may have operated as an art-factor on all stages of culture, and thus have given an autotelic value even to the lowest manifestations of art. The driving force in art-creation became comprehensible by this assumption; and the most distinctive features of the creation itself could be deduced from this psychological principle. In attempting, however, to explain the refinement of artistic attention, we could no longer proceed with purely psychical factors. We were compelled to appeal to the influence exercised by the concrete work of art. The psychological demonstration proving inadequate, it was necessary to supplement it by an historical argument.

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