New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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62
PROBLEMS IN MEANING
he has "failed to exploit adequately the expressive potentialities of his medium. His work may be correct in a negative sense without being positively felicitous or inspired." 11S Thus a work of art which reveals genuine artistic imagination, fertility in invention, and marked originality is felicitous by contrast with a work which is relatively unimaginative, merely correct, and imitative. This distinction is often found when the works of a master, say Bernini, are compared with those of his followers.
(3)   "Ideational non-contradiction" is the negative criterion according to which the
interpretations of the subject-matter do not contradict one another. . . . To illustrate this type of contradiction in an extreme, indeed, a fantastic mannersuppose we were to find in a single composition different representational objects treated in the manner of Corot, Cezanne, Matisse, and Henri Rousseau. The result would be utter ideational chaos. We would exclaim: "The painter has contradicted himself in almost every stroke." m
(4)   "Ideational coherence" is the positive criterion which
is achieved only in proportion as all the interpretations of the several portions of the specific subject-matter complement one another so that the work of art as a whole expresses a complex and coherent commentary on the nature and import of the entire subject-matter in question. Every great work of art which is stylistically consistent through and through exemplifies such artistic coherence, as is evidenced by the sense of organic unity of outlook which we derive from it.120
Although one might plausibly argue that the foregoing criteria are too conservative or respectable since sometimes works of art seem successfully to violate one or more of them
n8. Greene, op. cit.} p. 448.
119.  Ibid., pp. 449-45°-
120.  Ibid., p. 450.