Expression in Art

Aaron Ridley

in The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199279456
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Expression in Art

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It is natural to assign a significant role to artists in artistic expression, and perhaps to do so by extrapolating from the role we assign to people when they express themselves in everyday, non-artistic contexts. When, for instance, we say of someone's face that it expresses pleasure, we ordinarily take it that the pleasure revealed there is the person's own pleasure, and that the expression on their face is to be explained by the pleasure that they feel. In ordinary, non-artistic cases, then, we take the expression to reveal the state of the person, and the state of the person to explain the expression. The temptation is to suppose that the same must be true of artistic expression. The temptation, that is, is to suppose that a work of art expressing anguish both reveals and is to be explained by the artist's own anguish. But things may not be as straightforward as that.

Keywords: artistic expression; temptation; anguish; pleasure; facial expression

Article.  8908 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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