Aesthetics: Nature vs. Nurture

Dear Kobi, That was a very windy discussion on the merits of Art, especially the Picasso still life [in reference to the discussion of Le Guéridon (The Pedestal Table) in Chapter 3, “The Customer is Always ________ (Fill in the blank)” and why Doron didn’t get off to it]. There are two schools of thought in art appreciation and analysis. One states that art is created and the creator is the real artist and innovator. We merely analyze and appreciate it to the best of our abilities. The more we know, the greater is our experience; the more brilliant we are, the more original we are, or the greater our intellectual or aesthetic ability is, then the more we appreciate the work of art (without need for the usual notes, labels and messages). It is like studying the Gomorra: the more you bring to the table, in terms of knowledge and experience, the more benefit you get out of it”¦. Two, the other school of thought is that the creator can not possibly know all the implications and meanings of his work, since he does not know his subconscious and subliminal influences on his work. Therefore, we as receivers of the work or as observers are the ultimate creators since we reinterpret his/her work and recreate the work anew each time we view it in each generation. We therefore deconstruct the work and resynthesize it anew. The ultimate, greatest works are therefore those which allow for the greatest amount of interpretation and those that bring forth new and innovative ideas to see the world anew”¦. Thus in the first instance you are able to teach some one to appreciate art and learn and expand his/her horizons. In the latter case one can not be taught since one’s appreciation is a function of his/her life experience and beside the point; all interpretation is equally valid. I lean towards the former point of view. On the other hand I feel that teaching some one art appreciation is a waste of time. It should come from within one self and be a part of one’s life. NU GENUG SHOIN! Best, Gersh

Dear Gersh, And you thought I was windy! Actually, I loved your discussion. And I agree with your analysis of the two schools of thought regarding art interpretation. But what interests me even more is not how or whether one can be taught to appreciate art (I believe one can), but whether one can be taught to like it (I have concluded that one can’t). -Kobi

Dear Kobi, I do agree that one can [learn to] appreciate the art but it is hard to make one like it. Best-Gersh