This book presents Bells one-sided view of what makes a painting or other art object "Art". I think there is some validity in his assertion that the formal aspect of painting (color and shape)is all important and the content (subject matter)is irrelevant. But this, I would contend, is only from the strictly aesthetic and theoretical perspective. He completely discounts any other aspect of visual art as irrelevant or detrimental to true Art. He claims to be uninfluenced at all by any content in so far as he is moved to a state of aesthetic "ecstasy". I find this difficult to believe since he also claims to find primitive art and Cezanne so moving and this art has rather strong content; how can we, or he himself, be sure that there is no influence of content there? He does claim to be move to aesthetic ecstasy by Persian carpets and pottery as well, and I imagine that he would soon be swooning over the non-objective art arriving the same year that his book was published, but I can't help doubting that when content is present he is unaffected by it in any way other than negatively. Be that as it may, if he is so completely able to remain abstract in his visual perception I envy his sensitivity but also pity it. He is ignoring the many other riches that come with feeling the content of art intermingling with the abstract form of art.
I suspect that he is not immune to such feelings but rather, like many a critic before and after his time,he is out to defend his taste and his brilliant new theoretical discovery about what constitutes real Art. Like most philosophical writing that is worth reading (with the possible exception of Aristotle?) his book is full of outrageous claims and self-contradictions. Bell presents his theory with much wit and in spite of being a rather narrow definition of Art, he makes a point well worth considering.