What is art? Plato versus Picasso...
Philosophy has always been interested in the question concerning art. Plato is famous for his position on the relation between art social harmony. As you will discern in the reading, Plato does not hold a high opinion of artists. While his criticisms of the poets are mainly directed at various cultural interpretations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, there is a strong indication that Plato did not believe that the arts (as a mode of free expression) are as valuable as the analytic disciplines of mathematics and philosophy. In the Republic we are told that the arts will be subordinate and controlled (insofar as they are employed to educate) by the higher discipline of philosophy.
- Plato's Aesthetics: a description of Plato's key views
- ErracticImpact's Plato resource site: this is simply one of the best staring places to get information on Plato and his dialogues.
- Walter Horatio Pater's summary of Plato's Aesthetics
Picasso is best know as the father of cubism. Below are some links to get you started in exploring the richness of this 20th century artist's life:
- The Web Museum in Paris provides a brief bio with the basics.
- The Artchive also provides great information on cubism as artistic style along with valuable links for future research.
The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.
Objective: to discuss the connection between imitation and art.
Plato Guide Questions:
- Is the painter an imitator of appearances as Plato suggests? If not, what does the painter create?
- Plato suggests that there is a relation between imitation, knowledge and truth. What is the relation he draws? How does the painter fit in? What is the relationship between painting and truth?
- Does art deceive us when it makes an assertion that it is reflecting reality accurately?
- How can a piece of art change our perception of reality? A photograph?
- Is photography more real than painting, and hence, closer to the truth according to Plato?
- Plato makes definite claims about real artists versus those who imitate appearances. What are those assertions and who might he be referring to as a real artist given what you know about the divided line?
- Describe the relationship between art and truth. How does Picasso's view differ from the divided line approach in Plato's Republic.
- Cubism was viewed as an aberration or transitional style by many in the art community. Summarize Picasso's description of the developments in cubism. What do these developments reveal about the ways in which artistic styles change over time? Is any style of art absolute?
- Picasso outlines his own creative process in a few of the letters. How does his method differ from traditional research styles. How does Picasso improvise?
- Why does Picasso contend that there is no abstract art?
- What is the connection between art and emotion in Picasso's work?
- Did Picasso decide to invent cubism? If not, explain how the style took root in the art community.
- How does Picasso feel about academic training in art?
- Describe Picasso's position on the possibilities for artistic interpretation by art critics and historians. Why is his position significant for advocating training in aesthetics?
Here are the jpeg Smart Board notes from the Week 1 lectures: