By Stephen David Ross
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Extra resources for A theory of art: inexhaustibility by contrast
This is another way of stating the supreme value of art which I will develop: art enhances and enriches more than it completes or fulfills. Rightness here becomes one of the major dimensions of enhancement, that which I call perfection. Perfection always involves rich and intense contrasts with imperfection, incompleteness, and mediocrity. Only an ordinal theory can make this principle entirely clear. An ordinal theory rejects unconditional absolutes and pervasive hierarchies. As a consequence, metaphysics cannot rule supreme over other branches of science and philosophy.
Faithfulness is of little value here. Ernst Combrich makes the simple but vital point that literal faithfulness in painting is impossible. The artist does not copy, but seeks a way to attain the appearance of verisimilitude. "6 This is one of the reasons why experimentation is a vital element in art. "Only experimentation can show the artist a way out of the prison of style toward a greater truth. Only through trying out new effects never seen before in paint could he learn about nature. "7 A scene to be rendered faithfully will always have much more in it than is reproducible in any medium.
Purity and simplicity can only be in certain respects, frequently heightening the rich intensity of contrasts in other respects, at other levels. Here the capacity of contrasts to enter rich and complex aggregates is essential again. Here also, history and tradition are essential components of complex contrasts, providing a background against which minimalist works inhabit more complex contrasts in proportion to their purity and simplicity. This solution has the further advantage of acknowledging that the history and traditions of art are primary features of intense and compelling contrasts, part of the essential values of art, rather than accidental features of time and development as in theories which emphasize purely sensuous pleasures.
A theory of art: inexhaustibility by contrast by Stephen David Ross