Reflections on Art: A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers

By Susanne K. Langer | Go to book overview

Art and Craftsmanship

ANANDA K. COOMARASWAMY

IN REPLY TO THE ENQUIRY, What is art? an answer may be made as follows: Art is the involuntary dramatisation of subjective experience. In other words, the crystallisation of a state of mind in images (whether visual, auditory or otherwise). This excludes from art the practical activity of mere illustration, which involves only the combination of empirical observation with skill of craftsmanship. Even the setting down on paper of the signs, lines, words, musical notes, etc., that serve to communicate aesthetic experience by the indications of gesture, or audible sounds, is a practical activity1 to be distinguished from that of creation. However swiftly the record may follow on the heels of the single spiritual activity of intuitionexpression, it is always the externalisation of an already completed cycle. The words of a poem, the lines of a drawing, are not expressive: they are the catalytic stimuli to a renewed aesthetic activity, or expression, on the part of the hearer. It is therefore by ellipsis that we call them expressive, as it is by ellipsis that we speak of a physical work of art as beautiful. It is scarcely needful to add that questions of personal taste or interest have nothing to do with aesthetic values, however legitimately they may govern conduct.

____________________
In Kinema phraselogy, that of "registering".

-240-

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Reflections on Art: A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • Beauty as Feeling 3
  • Art and Feeling 10
  • Beauty and Significance 37
  • The Paradox of Aesthetic Meaning 62
  • On the Problem of Artistic Form 71
  • The Aesthetic Problem of Distance 79
  • The Nature of Dramatic Illusion 91
  • Music and Silence. 103
  • Time in the Plastic Arts 122
  • Bergsonism and Music 142
  • Music and Duration 152
  • Notes on the Superposition of Temporal Modes in the Works of Art 161
  • The Concept of "Tonal Body" 174
  • The Essence of Rhythm 186
  • Morphological Poetics 202
  • A Boston Criticism of Whitman 229
  • Modern Ballet 234
  • Art and Craftsmanship 240
  • The Eye Is A Part of the Mind 243
  • On the Problem of Musical Hearing 262
  • The Image in the Rock 298
  • Problems of A Song-Writer 301
  • The Histrionic Experience 311
  • Sketch for A Pychology of the Moving Pictures 317
  • Music and Myth in Their Mutual Relation 328
  • Modern Architecture: Toward A Redefinition of Style 342
  • Index 357
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