New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

and connectedness of elements in a work of art; it is "the inner law which secures the cohesion of the parts." 1U
To explain this view, the core of Professor Greene's elaborate account may be summarized. "By consistency is meant, in general, the satisfaction of the several conditions requisite to the clear expression of ideas in any medium/'115 There are four of these conditions.
(1)    "Medial" or "linguistic correctness" is the negative criterion stating
the artistic requirement of conformity to relevant pre-artistic and artistic rules and conventions. A work of art satisfies this criterion in proportion, first, as the basic principles of the chosen medium are not violated, and, secondly, in proportion as the formal implications of the manner or manners of treatment, and of the compositional pattern, adopted in it, are not disregarded.116
Thus a fresco which was begun with miniaturelike detail and which was completed in mosaic, gouache, and water color would violate artistic rules and conventions; and a painting which was executed partly in the "mode of line and local tone," partly in the "mode of relief," partly in the "Venetian mode," and partly in the "mode of total visual effect," 11T would outrageously disregard formal pictorial principles.
(2)  "Medial" or "linguistic felicity" is the positive criterion stating that an artist has not expressed himself with felicity if
114.  S. H. Butcher, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art (4th ed. London, 1932), p. 166. Although Butcher at no point in the discussion of Aristotle's view of poetic truth uses the term "consistency" to describe this view, the meaning of such epithets as "artistic probability" and "internal necessity" is essentially similar to Greene's meaning of "consistency" which will now be considered.
115.  The Arts and the Art of Criticism, p. 429.
116.  Ibid.j p. 447.
117.  These are the artistic categories discussed by Professor Arthur Pope in The Painter's Modes of Expression (Cambridge, Mass., 1931).