The various lenses—ethical, political, sexual, religious, and so forth—through which we may view art are often instrumental in giving us an appreciation of the work. In Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value, philosopher David Fenner presents a straightforward, accessible overview of the arguments about the importance of considering the relevant context in determining the true merit of a work of art.
The Victorians were image obsessed. The middle decades of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented growth in the picture industry. Technological advances enabled the Victorians to adorn with images the pages of their books and the walls of their homes. But this was not a wholly visual culture. Pictorial Victorians focuses on two of the most popular mid-nineteenth-century genres -illustration and narrative painting - that blurred the line between the visual and textual.
In these studies Roman Ingarden investigates the nature and mode of being of four kinds of art works: the musical work, the picture, the architectural work, and the film. He establishes that the work of art is a purely intentional object but considers also its connections to the real world. By analyzing a work of art in its “constitutive heterogeneous strata,” Ingarden demonstrates that a work of art will reveal, when examined in the appropriate way, its own inherent structure.
Edwin Jones sets out to show that a phenomenological analysis of meaning can contribute to a theory of creativity in several ways. It can clarify the concept of creative expression and resolve its paradoxical appearance. Creativity must have its roots in already existing meanings and at the same time has to generate new meanings. To illustrate, Jones shows that a phenomenological analysis can render more comprehensible the spiritual dilemma suffered by Cézanne.
In Decadent Style, John Reed defines “decadent art” broadly enough to encompass literature, music, and the visual arts and precisely enough to examine individual works in detail. Reed focuses on the essential characteristics of this style and distinguishes it from non–esthetic categories of “decadent artists” and “decadent themes.” Like the natural sciences and psychology, the arts in the late nineteenth century reflect an interest in the process of atomization.