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“A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.”
Albert Camus

The Post-Modern Times
Vol.1 No.3
is now available.
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Post-Modern Times: the journal of aesthetics and art history is dedicated to highlighting the work of the most gifted contemporary artists and exploring the aesthetic ideas they address.

It is clear that many of the artists asked to explain their motivations in this first issue have a deep sense of the relationship between contemporary painting and the entire history of the medium. They tend to challenge themselves with subject matter as they have all, unquestionably, mastered technique.

The Aesthetic Hypothesis

It is improbable that more nonsense has been written about aesthetics than about anything else: the literature of the subject is not large enough for that. It is certain, however, that about no subject with which I am acquainted has so little been said that is at all to the purpose. The explanation is discoverable. He who would elaborate a plausible theory of aesthetics must possess two qualities—artistic sensibility and a turn for clear thinking. Without sensibility a man can have no aesthetic experience, and, obviously, theories not based on broad and deep aesthetic experience are worthless. Only those for whom art is a constant source of passionate emotion can possess the data from which profitable theories may be deduced; but to deduce profitable theories even from accurate data involves a certain amount of brain-work, and, unfortunately, robust intellects and delicate sensibilities are not inseparable. As often as not, the hardest thinkers have had no aesthetic experience whatever. I have a friend blessed with an intellect as keen as a drill, who, though he takes an interest in aesthetics, has never during a life of almost forty years been guilty of an aesthetic emotion.

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Washington Allston's Lectures on Art

In treating on Art, which, in its highest sense, and more especially in relation to Painting and Sculpture, is the subject proposed for our present examination, the first question that occurs is, In what consists its peculiar character? or rather, What are the characteristics that distinguish it from Nature, which it professes to imitate?

To this we reply, that Art is characterized,—

First, by Originality.

Secondly, by what we shall call Human or Poetic Truth; which is the verifying principle by which we recognize the first.

Thirdly, by Invention; the product of the Imagination, as grounded on the first, and verified by the second. And,

Fourthly, by Unity, the synthesis of all.

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Leonardo da Vinci's Thoughts on Art

The painter's work will be of little merit if he takes the painting of others as his standard, but if he studies from nature he will produce good fruits; as is seen in the case of the painters of the age after the Romans, who continued to imitate one another and whose art consequently declined from age to age. After these came Giotto the Florentine, who was born in the lonely mountains, inhabited only by goats and similar animals; and he, being drawn to his art by nature, began to draw on the rocks the doings of the goats of which he was the keeper; and thus he likewise began to draw all the animals which he met with in the country: so that after long study he surpassed not only all the masters of his age, but all those of many past centuries. After him art relapsed once more, because all artists imitated the painted pictures, and thus from century to century it went on declining, until Tomaso the Florentine, called Masaccio, proved by his perfect work that they who set up for themselves a standard other than nature, the mistress of all masters, labour in vain.

Thus I wish to say, in regard to these mathematical matters, that they who merely study the masters and not the works of nature are the grandchildren, and not the children, of nature, the mistress of good masters. I abhor the supreme folly of those who blame the disciples of nature in defiance of those masters who were themselves her pupils.

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The Beginning of Greek Sculpture: The Heroic Age of Greek Art

The extant remains of Greek sculpture, though but a fragment of what the Greek sculptors produced, are, both in number and in excellence, in their fitness, therefore, to represent the whole of which they were a part, quite out of proportion to what has come down to us of Greek painting, and all those minor crafts which, in the Greek workshop, as at all periods when the arts have been really vigorous, were closely connected with the highest imaginative work. Greek painting is represented to us only by its distant reflexion on the walls of the buried houses of Pompeii, and the designs of subordinate though exquisite craftsmen on the vases. Of wrought metal, partly through the inherent usefulness of its material, tempting ignorant persons into whose hands it may fall to re-fashion it, we have comparatively little; while, in consequence of the perishableness of their material, nothing remains of the curious wood-work, the carved ivory, the embroidery and coloured stuffs, on which the Greeks set much store—of that whole system of refined artisanship, diffused, like a general atmosphere of beauty and richness, around the more exalted creations of Greek sculpture.

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