Who said that art is expression?

In “The Principles of Art”, R. Collingwood argues that art is the imaginative expression of emotion. All the worse, then, for Collingwood. In describing what he considers art proper, Collingwood makes an important distinction between the idea of emotion expressed and the emotion aroused or betrayed in the work of art.

This distinction is vital to establish where art itself should exist as a form of communication that is different and beyond the everyday. Art itself is a form of communication that is capable of expressing authentic emotions in a way that will create a deeper human connection in those who witness it. When you see a person laughing at the bus stop, they are betraying their joy and happiness at the time. Art itself is not a mere sample of how the artist feels.

It's not your own art to rant and behave in the exhibitionist's way. This is not what Collingwood is referring to in relation to the artist. The artist is betraying her emotions when she becomes fully aware of that emotion itself and can express that feeling with “clarity or intelligibility” (Collingwood, p. 25 Reader).

This is where the true value of art and artists lies. When in normal life we relate, we often discuss how we feel. However, when we do, we talk about generalities. We can say that we were sad at the end of the film. However, this does not reveal the true nature of our sadness. Is it the same sadness you felt when your dog died or when your friend went to work abroad? How does the person sitting across from you identify with your difficult situation if you can't communicate your current state to them? How can we, as individuals distinct from everyone else, truly engage in a meaningful debate about our place in the world and what it means for us? Our experiences and reactions in the world are all that matter to us.

However, most of us can't fully share these things with those who matter most to us. This is the vacuum that art and artists occupy. For Collingwood, art is the communication of lucid and detailed expressions of emotional content to an audience that understands the message. Through the process of witnessing art, people come together in a moment of deeper understanding of the plight of their peers, allowing for deeper relationships based on mutual empathy.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. In his 1938 book The Principles of Art, R. G. Collingwood presented his theory of aesthetics, addressing (among other things) the question of what makes something a work of art.

According to Collingwood, art is fundamentally expression, that is, expression of emotions and feelings. Art is not necessarily a concrete object, but rather the aesthetic experience of the work of art as such; an emotional response. Perhaps, then, the theory of expression can be rescued from the common objection that it makes art and the expressive process too mentalistic, but it is not clear if it can be saved from another theory, which accuses it of committing the genetic fallacy of confusing judgments about the artist, the source of art, with judgments about art itself. It will defend Collingwood's view that works of art are primarily mental phenomena and will provide numerous examples of works of art that support this claim. During the period of German idealism, when art was seen as a manifestation of the spirit, the expressive power of art was much more vindicated.

Art as a representation of external existence (it is true that “seen through temperament”) has been replaced by art as an expression of the inner life of the human being. For Tolstoy, it is essential to the sincerity of art that the artist feels that emotion is communicating, and a condition for the success of art is that the public is infected with the same feeling. Later, Nietzsche allied art more closely with the Dionysian solution to the problem of life, and presented the Dionysian in art as an expression of the basic human impulse called the will to Power. It is somewhat difficult to say with confidence if these fiction-based visions are types of incarnation theory, since, like theories of expression, they emphasize the processes underlying expression in the arts rather than on the logic and semantics involved in the attribution of expressive properties to works of art.

Among his accusations, Wollheim argues that “to conceive a work of art as something that could exist solely in the artist's head is to “overlook or confuse the crucial role that artistic media play in the production of art”.