Posts Tagged ‘art’

Tolstoy: What is Art?

Posted: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 in Art
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Leo Tolstoy
“There is one indubitable indication distinguishing real art from its counterfeit, namely, the infectiousness of art… however poetical, realistic, effectful, or interesting a work may be, it is not a work of art if it does not evoke that feeling… of joy and of spiritual union with… the author and with… those who are also infected by it… (T)he receiver…is so united to the artist that he feels as if the work were his own and not someone else’s – as if what it expresses were just what he had long been wishing to express.”

— from “What is Art?”


How does artistic innovation happen? A good  guess is that it happens the way most innovation happens, from within what cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wegner call “communities of practice.” That is, innovation may not be due to the isolated Rodinesque savant, but to changes in the concepts shared by the ad hoc, marginal, often fugitive groups to which the artist belongs. The group in effect shares a fantasy about how art works and then experiments on the basis of that fantasy. Power scoffs at these trivialities, of course, but in truth Art’s little riverings outlast Power’s monuments.