New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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"ARTISTIC TRUTH"                                         55
the 'as' -ness as meaning the idea's verifiability." " As we shall later see, however, Greene's position is in no way so simple, clear, and direct as this.
Nearly all critics today will agree, indeed, that such notions as verifiability and factual accuracy are unessential, unimportant and, from some points of view, even inapplicable considerations in artistic creation and artistic evaluation. Only a thoroughgoing naturalism which judges art according to a standard of literal imitation would seriously subscribe to them. Nonetheless an occasional critic of repute will agree with Plato that artists are copiers and will advocate such naturalism: "All a sculpture can do is to recall horseness, and it can do that only by being an exact replica of some living horse, e.g., Haig's 'lean charger.' " 10°
This remarkable statement totally ignores that quality of experience which, for most persons, is an essential requirement in the creation of works of art: namely, the imagination. Thus Delacroix attacks imitative art and gives the artistic imagination an important place in his esthetic. As a telling rebuttal to the above comment of Belgion, consider the following:
Realism should be defined as the antipode of art. . . . What, in sculpture for example, would a realistic art be? Mere casts from nature would always be superior to the most perfect imitation
99.  Op. cit., p. 170.
100.  Montgomery Belgion, "Meaning in Art," The Criterion, January, 1930, p. 209. It is curious that, on occasion, Ruskin's notion of artistic truth seems remarkably "scientific." Though he frequently stresses the importance of artistic imagination, and though he considers imitation the "destruction" and truth the "foundation" of all art, his key criterion of truth is a "faithfulness in representing nature" or an "accuracy of perception" which is publicly verifiable. In Modern Painters, he states the purpose of Part II in this way: "I shall look only for truth; bare, clear, downright statement of facts; showing in each particular, as far as I am able, what the truth of nature is, and then seeking for the plain expression of it, and for that alone" ([new ed. New York, 1873], I, 115).