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Cognitive element[edit | edit source]
What enables painting is the perception and representation of intensity. Every point in space has different intensity, which can be represented in painting by black and white and all the gray shades between. In practice, painters can articulate shapes by juxtaposing surfaces of different intensity; by using just color (of the same intensity) one can only represent symbolic shapes. Thus, the basic means of painting are distinct from ideological means, such as geometrical figures, various points of view and organization (perspective), and symbols. For example, a painter perceives that a particular white wall has different intensity at each point, due to shades and reflections from nearby objects, but ideally, a white wall is still a white wall in pitch darkness. In technical drawing, thickness of line is also ideal, demarcating ideal outlines of an object within a perceptual frame different from the one used by painters.
Color and tone are the essence of painting as pitch and rhythm are of music. Color is highly subjective, but has observable psychological effects, although these can differ from one culture to the next. Black is associated with mourning in the West, but in the East, white is. Some painters, theoreticians, writers and scientists, including Goethe, Kandinsky, Newton, have written their own color theory. Moreover the use of language is only a generalisation for a color equivalent. The word "red", for example, can cover a wide range of variations on the pure red of the visible spectrum of light. There is not a formalized register of different colors in the way that there is agreement on different notes in music, such as C or C♯ in music. For a painter, color is not simply divided into basic and derived (complementary or mixed) colors (like, red, blue, green, brown, etc.). Painters deal practically with pigments, so "blue" for a painter can be any of the blues: phtalocyan, Paris blue, indigo, cobalt, ultramarine, and so on. Psychological, symbolical meanings of color are not strictly speaking means of painting. Colors only add to the potential, derived context of meanings, and because of this the perception of a painting is highly subjective. The analogy with music is quite clear—sound in music (like "C") is analogous to light in painting, "shades" to dynamics, and coloration is to painting as specific timbre of musical instruments to music—though these do not necessarily form a melody, but can add different contexts to it.
Rhythm is important in painting as well as in music. Rhythm is basically a pause incorporated into a body (sequence). These pauses allow creative force to intervene and add new creations—form, melody, coloration. The distribution of form, or any kind of information is of crucial importance in the given work of art and it directly affects the esthetical value of that work. This is because the esthetical value is functionality dependent, i.e. the freedom (of movement) of perception is perceived as beauty. Free flow of energy, in art as well as in other forms of "techne", directly contributes to the esthetical value.
Aesthetics and theory of painting[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Theory of painting
Aesthetics is the study of art and beauty; it was an important issue for such 18th and 19th century philosophers as Kant or Hegel. Classical philosophers like Plato and Aristotle also theorized about art and painting in particular; Plato disregarded painters (as well as sculptors) in his philosophical system; he maintained that painting cannot depict the truth—it is a copy of reality (a shadow of the world of ideas) and is nothing but a craft, similar to shoemaking or iron casting. By the time of Leonardo painting had become a closer representation of the truth than painting was in Ancient Greece. Leonardo da Vinci, on the contrary, said that "Pittura est cousa mentale" (painting is a thing of the mind). Kant distinguished between Beauty and the Sublime, in terms that clearly gave priority to the former. Although he did not refer particularly to painting, this concept was taken up by painters such as Turner and Caspar David Friedrich.
Hegel recognized the failure of attaining a universal concept of beauty and in his aesthetic essay wrote that Painting is one of the three "romantic" arts, along with Poetry and Music for its symbolic, highly intellectual purpose.
- Merriam-Webster Online
- Craig, Edward. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Genealogy to Iqbal, page 278. Routledge, 1998.
- "Painting and music are the specially romantic arts. Lastly, as a union of painting and music comes poetry, where the sensuous element is more than ever subordinate to the spirit." Excerpted from Encyclopedia Britannica 1911