Author Archives: Mena McCarthy

Posts by Mena McCarthy

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In the article “The Beautiful and the Ugly are One Thing, the Sublime Another; A Reflection on Culture,” Diamond begins to describe the fine line between the definitions of “beauty,” “ugly,” and the “sublime.” He states that “what is beautiful today may be an embarrassment tomorrow,” so does that give beauty a true meaning, much like the inconspicuous meaning of art?

Diamond then links the meaning of the “sublime” to culture, giving examples such as language and food, but how does one’s culture help them to reach a state of “sublime-ness?” It can be inferred that from living in one culture for an extended period of time, the small things that seem to amaze people from outside that culture seem mundane and ordinary to the people living in it, but do those differences between cultures define art, or do they simply add a new dimension to the already multivalent meaning? Is being amazed by these differences define the achievement of the “sublime?”

Comments by Mena McCarthy

"Frank Sibley's article "Aesthetic Concepts" first discusses the aspect of having "taste" when observing works of art, and that "it includes terms used used by both layman and critic alike, as well as some which are mainly the property of professional critics and specialists." He states that these words can be metaphorical and have their primary roots in being aesthetic terms, or that they have "shifted" into becoming metaphorical terms. Sibley further explains that aesthetic terms can both have and not have conditions that they need to abide by. He says that " no description in non-aesthetic terms permits us to claim that these or any other aesthetic terms must undeniably apply to it," and explains how the comparison between radically different aesthetic terms, such as "graceful" and "violent," and how these comparisons may actually change the viewpoint in which an art piece is viewed. The next point that Sibley gets into is that of "taste concepts," saying that there are no conditions that overrule the aspect of "taste" (except negative connotations). In order to achieve a mastery over taste concepts, one needs to be unique in the way they describe a piece of art, that each piece should be described in its own way and in its own right. An interesting point that Sibley makes is the vagueness of language in describing a piece of art, but the detail that takes place when critiquing a piece of art. When one looks at a piece of art, there simply aren't the right words to describe it, and the words that one attempts to describe the piece of art are simply not complex enough to capture the essence of what the piece of art is conveying to them. But in complete contrast, when one observes art, they study the fine details and the smallest aspects that make up the piece instead of the entire thing overall. "Nothing is to be achieved by trying to single out or separate features and generalizing about them." Sibley then continues on for the remainder of the article to explain the differences between aesthetic concepts and taste, and saying (over and over again) that there are both conditions and no conditions that concern making these aesthetic viewpoints. The main message that he is getting at is that we all have these "aesthetic concepts" from an early age, but need to develop our abilities to use them in the right contexts. From doing so, we develop the sense of "taste" in viewing artwork, which helps to understand it from your own point of view, that of which has been influenced by previous aesthetic experiences."
--( posted on Nov 20, 2013, commenting on the post Frank Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts” )
"Linda Nochlin brings up very interesting points in her article "Why are there no great women artists?" The first point would be the title itself, "Why are there no great women artists?" Nochlin begins her article explaining that there has been a feminist revolution, but people are still accepting the idea of the "white-male-position-accepted-as-natural." She further states that "'what is'...'natural' may be intellectually fatal." She then brings up this idea of "greatness," and that men and women (at least in the art world) may have different definitions for it. But with this assertion, Nochlin explains that the aspect of "femininity" is not what brings female artists together, but the "other artists and writers of their own period and outlook..." The problem with the feminists in the first place is their misconception of their own femininity; they believe that art is completely "personal" and "emotional," when it is really the result of the mechanical practice of painting in itself. The "masters" of art are almost all heavily educated in their art, while women were not given this opportunity. Nochlin makes a very profound statement that I originally thought disagreed with the entire article: " The fact of the matter is that there have been no supremely great women artists, as far as we know, although there have been many interesting and very good ones who remain insufficiently investigated or appreciated..." But I realized that it is exactly the opposite; the main reason that women haven't been able to become as recognized as Van Gogh or other "masters" is because of the system education and the different institutions that inhibited them from receiving their artistic education in the first place. There is a proposal, however, that Nochlin makes for women to persevere in their conquest to be recognized as a great woman artist: "Instead, women must concieve of themselves as potentially, if not actually, equal subjects, and must be willing to look the facts of their situation full in the face, without self-pity, or cop-outs; at the same time they must view their situation with that high degree of emotional and intellectual commitment necessary to create a world in which equal achievement will be not only made possible but actively encouraged by social institutions." Another aspect that Nochlin brings to the surface is the double standard between men and women when it comes to art. Men are said to be allowed to have a"feminine" involvement within society, whether it is becoming a pediatrician if they have a love for children, or a master chef if they have a love for cooking, and can even pursue "feminine" art interests, such as "painters or sculptors." Even if this is the case, Nochlin states that men are still unwilling to give up the "natural order" because it has so many advantages for them. If a man can have both "submission" and "affection" from a woman, why would he possibly want to give up that power and authority? After further explaining the differences between men and women in the artistic world (even asking what the case would be if Picasso were to be born female), she delves into the aspect of the nude portrait. A portrait of a nude woman was seen as "forbidden" in art schools, while the nude portrait of a man was allowed. The more surprising idea is that women were not allowed to participate in the drawing of a nude model, whether it was male or female! The standard that a group of male art students were allowed to draw a nude female while women were not even allowed to draw a nude of their own gender is simply unjustified. Because of the inhibiting of this experience, women were not able to get the proper training in order to become "great artists." In conclusion, Nochlin explains that yes, a woman pursuing an art career is difficult, and that there is an expectation that when they marry, women have to "drop [their] carrer[s]" and become the doting housewife, but the "disadvantages" may be the biggest strengths when pursuing an art career."
--( posted on Nov 19, 2013, commenting on the post Linda Nochlin, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” )
"In his article entitled "Understanding Art and Understanding Persons," Frances Berenson asks a very intriguing question on the topic of culture: "Why is such understanding [of culture] seen as a problem needing discussion?" He even states"Given that they [the arguments] are valid, so what?" So what does this entail? Apparently a lot more than I thought. One characteristic that Berenson tackles is that of relativism. Like Danitsa stated, the aspect of cultural relativism does come into play. Evidently, Berenson says that in order to "respect" something, we have to "understand" it, whether it is a person or a piece of artwork. Otherwise, we would have " a moral, intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional self-imposed blindness" cast upon us because there is no tangible way to comprehend what is intangible. He makes this connection in his definition of empathy, asking the questions of how he would feel in a situation, and how he imagines how one would feel in a certain situation. We could always assume the meaning of a piece of art (like the feelings of the person), but how do we actually know if that is what the person meant or if we just took the idea out of context because of how we would feel in that certain situation (This can also include art being "institutionalized"). Berenson then goes into the three steps of understanding art, or in this case, music. The first step is "Identification (Embodiment)." This first step explains tat one should analyze the piece of music for its aesthetic value, such as how he states that there are certain notes on the score and certain dance moves that are executed "in time to rhythms." The second step, "Identification (Particular Embodiment)," means that after viewing the dance and listening to the music, one is to associate that certain piece with its category (a classical piece versus a modern piece), and what kind of dance is associated with that type of music (whether it is a tango or a waltz). The third and final step is "Subjective Meaning (Emergence)." According to Berenson, this step is the hardest to define. It asks that person to infer what the piece meant to the performer, and what the "subjective significance consists of.""
--( posted on Nov 7, 2013, commenting on the post Frances Berenson, “Understanding Art and Understanding Persons” )
"Walter Benjamin's article on "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" shows that in the reproduction of a piece of art, the original essence is taken away. Like Danitsa said, the availability of art in the modern world is endless, whether it is a picture online or listening to music, but this raises another point. Imagine a scenario in which you had no access to internet, books, or any other medium in which artwork could be reproduced. How would one know the difference between Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet's paintings? Words alone would only leave the differences to the imagination instead of being more concrete. Another factor of reproduction that Benjamin addresses is his disagreement with film. He believes that scenes are too fleeting and that it is the film that seems to "view" the reader instead of the opposite. But when viewing a film, would it still be entertaining if all of the action was slow and the setting never changed? Didn't think so."
--( posted on Oct 30, 2013, commenting on the post Walter Benjamin )
"Agreeing with both Ann and Ahmed, I also believe that the concept of The Nose as an opera did not give Gogol's original story justice. The actors gave the entire story a parodic feel instead of the cleverness the narrator relayed to the readers. Major Kovalyov was mindless and blubbering on while in the original story he seemed to have more intellect. I also expected to see the actual nose wearing the official's coat and to have more of a role in the opera in general other than mostly being a 2-D animation. Shostakovich's music, on the other hand, was drowned out and seemed inexistent. It didn't give the audience much to work with in terms of replacing the narrator. I was actually reminded by reading the other posts that it was even there at all. On a better note, the set work and animations were definitely a pleasure to look at. The use of the newspaper pages as a backdrop and the excessive use of the color red definitely gave the impression of the Communist period that both Gogol and Shostakovich intended. The use of the animations was very creative in giving the opera a more artistic side, even if they were a bit overbearing at times because of the already decorative background."
--( posted on Oct 29, 2013, commenting on the post The Nose )
"I remember Professor Blot saying that he wants it handwritten because we already do a lot of things internet-based, but it's not a formal report for each one, just a paragraph or so on your reaction to the performance. Like you said, a journal-type setting. Hope this helped!"
--( posted on Oct 29, 2013, commenting on the post Performance Log )
"Like Eve, I also appreciate classical music, but in a different light. I don't appreciate classical music through listening to it as much, but through how I dance. To briefly explain, there are two types of belly dancing: Modern and Classic. Modern belly dancing usually has hints of other dance styles and uses more props while Classical belly dancing is much more improvisational and focuses more on the dancer "connecting" with the music rather than just doing it for purely entertainment value. The same can be seen with modern pop music versus classical music. The "props" would be, like Eve said, the autotune and other tools that make a song more "fake" in a sense. I know that when I listen to modern music, I almost always find a connection to another song (usually 80's music), which shows the lack in originality that classical music seemed to emphasize. To compare the "connection" aspect, you only need to think of the lyrics of modern day music. Most of it focuses on a club, bedroom, or other setting in which the singer is either trying to pick up a guy/girl or breaking up with said guy/girl. Where have the songs gone that focus on actually serenading someone instead of simply wanting to "get" with them? To be honest, it's sad that music has seemed to downgrade as the years go by."
--( posted on Oct 9, 2013, commenting on the post 10/8 – Copland, Kramer, Sparshott )
"1. According to Aaron Copland in What to Listen for in Music, "You can't develop a better appreciation of the art merely by reading a book about can do nothing more important than listen to it." My question is: Is having a better knowledge of music allow for one to be able to listen to music, for lack of a better word, better? In the sense of having background knowledge to base your listening experience on. 2. Kramer states that classical music "gives us a vision of authentic subjectivity," and "gives us an ideal vision of what we may be." Do you believe that this goal is only attainable by listening to classical music alone or can it be achieved by listening to any music in general? 3. Francis Sparshott describes that "works of music can be understood, appreciated and enjoyed," and "that music exists to be appreciated." Do you agree with this statement or not and why?"
--( posted on Oct 8, 2013, commenting on the post 10/8 – Copland, Kramer, Sparshott )
"1. Yes, I do agree that art should "infect" people in a certain way, but that the emotional intent from the creator of the piece should play a role in how the piece of art is perceived. There are always going to be individuals that do not take away the same feeling that was implied, but according to Tolstoy, the verbal communication that goes on between those individuals is also seen as defining art. I believe that knowing the intent of a certain piece of art does help in how I view it, only because the emotion that the artist felt influences how I feel. But at the same time, my feelings are my own feelings. For example, if there is a piece of music that a composer wrote with a lamenting intent, but for some reason I find it joyful, that is my own opinion, even if I knew the intended emotion. 3. Art can be understood by everybody, no matter what race, class, or language. Tolstoy explains how the upper class has established an "art-canon," which seems to make excuses for any anomalies that occur in art, making it nearly impossible for anyone outside that "circle" (i.e the lower classes) to understand. The upper class has distorted the meaning so that art is "merely [for] our pleasure" instead of being an entire emotional experience in itself."
--( posted on Sep 27, 2013, commenting on the post 9/26 – Tolstoy )
"Even though the artwork in the Barnes Collection is readily available to the public, one should ponder the thought of whether it should be. The documentary The Art of the Steal showed Barnes’ passion for the artwork to be used for educational purposes, not to be capitalized and taken advantage of in order to make a profit. Daniel states in his response that “Art in general belongs to everyone,” but the main reason the Barnes Collection was opened in the first place was not for the general public to view it like any other museum. But this position raises its own question: Who determines the purpose of a piece of art? Martin Filler’s article Victory! explains how Barnes’ former classmate William Glackens originally purchased the first paintings that developed into the extensive collection Barnes came to own, but did Picasso, Monet, and Goya intend for their artwork to be privatized in a collection that restricted the viewers to only include students and educators? It is a question that cannot be answered without asking he original artists themselves, and dead artists tell no tales. Barnes intended for his widespread collection to be kept in its secluded corner of lower Merion, where it would be out of sight from the bustling city of Philadelphia, especially Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where the Philadelphia Museum of Art seems to take center stage. The artwork portrayed in a formal museum such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art does not have the same sense of personality, as does the lived-in feeling of the Barnes Collection’s first building."
--( posted on Sep 11, 2013, commenting on the post Moving The Barnes: Albert and The Art Experience vs. The Masses )