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Does Objectivism recognize value in surreal art?

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Mister A
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It may have been a lot of things, and that's the problem. Moreover, it doesn't really reflect any metaphysical value-judgments, does it?

Art, like many things, novels for example, may be difficult to understand by any given person, and easier by others (this was somewhat alluded to before I think). In some cases, perhaps some background and explanation by the artist may be needed to fully understand the message relayed. The lack of clarity of the message may not excluded it from being art, it just may exclude it from being GOOD art.

Again, just because you or I may not see it, doesn't mean NO ONE sees it.

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But to be fair, we weren't talking about "whatever they want", we were talking about a particular style of "art" called Surrealism. I'm assuming that whether or not we agree it is art, there are some characteristics that make certain pieces or work Surrealism.

Yes. Elements of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequiturs, according to Wikipedia.

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Art, like many things, novels for example, may be difficult to understand by any given person, and easier by others (this was somewhat alluded to before I think). In some cases, perhaps some background and explanation by the artist may be needed to fully understand the message relayed.

Some background - yes. But not an explanation like "this is a rainy car window". That should be evident from the painting.

The lack of clarity of the message may not excluded it from being art, it just may exclude it from being GOOD art.

Sooner or later the lack of clarity reaches a point where it can no longer be considered art. Like the painting above.

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Some background - yes. But not an explanation like "this is a rainy car window". That should be evident from the painting.

Often, the title of the work gives some indication.

What I might suggest is that you have personal criteria you like to see in art that is not necessarily a requirement for it to be art. Then again, perhaps I'm wrong too. Personally, I think it can be very difficult to precisely nail down what is art and what is not art.

That said, I have no desire to continue to be a defender of Surrealistic art. I mostly wanted to offer some things for your consideration. Primarily, perhaps you might consider that the whole genre of Surrealism should not be discarded from the realm of art and that considering each piece on its own merit may offer the possibility of a more objective evaluation.

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Perhaps. I've never really been interested in art until I discovered Objectivism, and I still struggle to see why it is a main branch of Ayn Rand's philosophy. I think it's the hardest part to understand, but I'll try to read some books and see if the pieces start falling into place like they have done all the way from metaphysics to politics.

Edited by tripod fish
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I don't think Objectivism even recognizes surrealism as art. It's certainly possible to like surrealistic movies, paintings, etc., but it's not an art.

It's important to remember that does not mean an attempt to make faithful copies of reality as it is seen. The crucial thing is that *certain* elements about reality are focused upon and then recreated in an artistic medium. Surrealism is closer to something like fantasy writing, emphasizing and expressing things that are likely otherwise extremely unusual or not even considered. Perhaps what is communicated may be vague, but there is still *something* being conveyed as a re-creation of reality. Whether you understand WHAT is being communicated is more a question of the quality of art. Abstract art, like a Pollock or Rothko painting, doesn't really communicate anything, especially due to the method of even making it. I'm not sure HOW any kind of value judgment could be portrayed in that. But in surreal art (I'm only really familiar with Dali actually) there are still methods to suggest there is a way to represent an aspect of reality in some way. I do not think it is important about how many understand the message an artist conveys. It's not so much that it's hard to understand what was going on in Pollock's mind as much as it is how could he convey meaning anyway? The meaning he gets would seem to be like the meaning people get out of seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. Why don't we call that art? I mean, someone had to make the toast, and the result was a portrait! Because it's a result of chance, and the meaning was no different than looking at a sunset. Nothing was being re-created at all.

As for what may be valuable about surrealist art from an Objectivist perspective is at least for me it makes you think of being on some other strange planet. How would your life change in such a world? If you lived in such a world, how would you feel? Certain things are chosen to convey a variety of ideas like this, ranging from what is being painted, to the style, to the perspective, really a large variety of tools.

Edited by Eiuol
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If the people to whom the work is aimed require the artist's detailed description to judge what the re-creation involves and what metaphysical values it reflects, then it's not art in my opinion.

I didn't say that people needed an artist's detailed description to judge a work of art or what "metaphysical values" they think it reflects. I said that they'd need a detailed description to verify if they've accurately identified what the artist intended his art to communicate.

Every work of art is interpreted differently by different people, and it's not uncommon for most people to find different meanings in a work of art than what the artist intended. Twenty different people will find twenty different meanings in a painting. Since they have conflicting opinions about it's meaning, none of them is justified in assuming that their interpretations are what the artist intended. Nor are they justified in assuming that an artwork from which they get no meaning fails to communicate. They have to consider the possibility that they have failed to recognize meaning in the art, that they are not particularly sensitive to one art form or another, or that there are enough complex variables in any work of art that several different interpretations are rationally justified. Even Rand's work is justifiably open to different interpretations, as has been discussed on this thread.

Were you of the opinion that when you think that you've identified a meaning in a work of art, you've identified the artist's intended meaning, and that you don't need to verify your opinion about his intentions by some means outside of the artwork? Were you under the impression that anyone who disagrees with your interpretation is wrong because you say so? Were you thinking that you're just automatically eminently qualified to judge art, and that any failure of communication between a work of art and you is necessarily due to the artist's incompetence and never your own as a viewer?

It would be interesting to hear what meaning Rand got out of Corpus Hybercubus.

Is it relevant? From my knowledge of Vermeer, Rand misinterpreted his work where most other people have not. From my knowledge and experience as an artist, she judged Capuletti to be significantly better than he was. She was better at judging some art forms than others. But does any of that matter? If she found profound meaning in Dali's work that Dali never intended to be found, would you want to claim that she wasn't justified in experiencing what the art allowed her to experience, and that she was in error in calling it art?

J

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Do you think any painting can be considered art as long as the painter intends to involve a selective re-creation of reality according to his metaphysical value-judgments? Even this?

chaotic-beauty-hema-rana.jpg

Here's a group of paintings that I've posted a couple of times over at Objectivist Living. Take a look at the realist ones (in the left column) and identify the artists' intended meanings.

2693303411_40dbc3f704_o.jpg

Are they all non-art if you can't identify the artists' intended meanings and objectively prove that you've done so?

J

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Abstract art, like a Pollock or Rothko painting, doesn't really communicate anything, especially due to the method of even making it. I'm not sure HOW any kind of value judgment could be portrayed in that.

You might find Kandinsky's thoughts on the subject, which I quoted here, an informative first step toward understanding how abstract color and form can express meaning (scroll down a bit to the section titled "Kandinsky being very objective in describing the 'language' of color" if you want to get to the heart of it quickly).

J

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If she found profound meaning in Dali's work that Dali never intended to be found, would you want to claim that she wasn't justified in experiencing what the art allowed her to experience, and that she was in error in calling it art?

The meaning she found would then be like the meaning people get out of seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. It was never intended, and thus it's not art in my opinion.

As for the paintings you posted, I consider all of them non-art.

Edited by tripod fish
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The meaning she found would then be like the meaning people get out of seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. It was never intended, and thus it's not art in my opinion.

As for the paintings you posted, I consider all of them non-art.

Whatever kind of meaning you find isn't exactly the important question. What matters is if what is done - at least in painting - is if something *can* be communicated by artistic intent. Communicability, though I'd say it isn't an *essential* feature of art, is important to the extent that a metaphysical value judgment is happening. If nothing *can* be communicated, then I don't see how a MVJ can be made.

More on topic about surrealism, though it may be bizarre, it still has all the essential characteristics of art.

dali-swans-reflecting-elephants.jpg

Edited by Eiuol
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The meaning she found would then be like the meaning people get out of seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. It was never intended, and thus it's not art in my opinion.

As for the paintings you posted, I consider all of them non-art.

I think that if your criteria were to be consistently applied, very little would qualify as art. In fact, it seems quite likely that nothing would.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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The meaning she found would then be like the meaning people get out of seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. It was never intended, and thus it's not art in my opinion.

Well, just understand that it's not art in your opinion because it fails your criterion of communication between artist and (every?) viewer, which is not part of Objectivism's definition. Understanding that your opinion differs from Objectivism is important if you're prone to mistakenly represent your own opinions as Objectivism, as you did here:

I don't think Objectivism even recognizes surrealism as art.
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