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5.0 out of 5 stars A Bloomsbury critic, 18 Feb 2011
This review is from: Art (Paperback)
Clive Bell was one of the Bloomsbury set and knew Virginia Woolf and her painting sister Vanessa Bell well. He wrote about the changing artistic norms and styles of the turn-of-the-century in early twentieth century. Unlike many writers on aesthetics, he is clear and interesting. R. Jenkins
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4.0 out of 5 stars Core thesis is Seminal, 16 Aug 2013
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Marcolorenzo (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Art (Paperback)
There is a lot of flowery inflated nonsense in this work, but the core thesis is seminal. The basic idea which makes this book worth reading, is that the basic essence of art lies in its ability to express through artistic means, what he calls "significant form". Significant form is the formal relationship inherent in a work of art which reflects "the thing in itself" of Kant or in other words the Ultimate Reality behind the physical reality, this together with the emotional response the artist feels as he witnesses this ultimate reality and manifests it in the work is what according to Bell makes a work ART. The author's use of "significant form" comes from Aristotle's use of the same term, who used it to mean the "anima" or soul of a substance. Bell pretty much means the same thing in a geometrical graphic sense. The compositonal form's significant form expresses the underlying soul or essence of reality (perhaps God Himself) and is what makes a masterpiece as masterpiece. If you've ever wondered why people pay hundreds of million of pounds for a canvas of Picasso etc., you may now understand why. It would be according to the author like having the soul of the cosmos present for you to gaze at in the privacy of your own domain. His thesis goes almost as far as saying that Art is the most important activity of man ( the goal of understanding ultimate reality and God himself) and is capable of effecting man's salvation. He explains that the artist is able to see this reality because he sees the physical as an end in itself and not a means to anything, an idea which is connected to seeing the world through the eyes of love and arriving at seeing God's fingerprint in His creation. As a result Art becomes an index of the spiritual condition of an age and of humanity. This thesis is a magnificent achievement, and is detailed in the first few chapters of this short text (150 pages). The rest of the book is devoted to ramblings about various periods of art and the author's evaluation of them. He returns again to his core thesis when explaining his understanding of the significance of Cezanne, in the chapter on Cezanne. The basic thesis makes this work mandatory reading for anyone interested in what Art is and its worth and meaning. Highly Recommended. 4 stars because of the rambling and insignificant nature of 1/2 of the text which does not address this main thesis.
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Art
Art by Clive Bell (Paperback - 11 Oct 2007)
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