counter create hit Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic

Availability: Ready to download

Taking vigorous issue with the pervasive Western notion that the arts exist essentially for the purpose of aesthetic contemplation, Nicholas Wolterstorff proposes instead what he sees as an authentically Christian perspective: that art has a legitimate, even necessary, place in everyday life. While granting that galleries, theaters and concert halls serve a valid purpose, Taking vigorous issue with the pervasive Western notion that the arts exist essentially for the purpose of aesthetic contemplation, Nicholas Wolterstorff proposes instead what he sees as an authentically Christian perspective: that art has a legitimate, even necessary, place in everyday life. While granting that galleries, theaters and concert halls serve a valid purpose, Wolterstorff argues that art should also be appreciated in action -- in private homes, in hotel lobbies, in factories and grocery stores, on main street. His conviction that art should be multifunction is basic to the author's views on art in the city (he regards most American cities as dehumanizing wastelands of aesthetic squalor, dominated by the demands of the automobile), and leads him to a helpful discussion of its role in worship and the church. Developing an aesthetic that is basically grounded, yet always sensitive to the human need for beauty, Wolterstorff make a brilliant contribution to understanding how art can serve to broaden and enrich our lives.


Compare
Ads Banner

Taking vigorous issue with the pervasive Western notion that the arts exist essentially for the purpose of aesthetic contemplation, Nicholas Wolterstorff proposes instead what he sees as an authentically Christian perspective: that art has a legitimate, even necessary, place in everyday life. While granting that galleries, theaters and concert halls serve a valid purpose, Taking vigorous issue with the pervasive Western notion that the arts exist essentially for the purpose of aesthetic contemplation, Nicholas Wolterstorff proposes instead what he sees as an authentically Christian perspective: that art has a legitimate, even necessary, place in everyday life. While granting that galleries, theaters and concert halls serve a valid purpose, Wolterstorff argues that art should also be appreciated in action -- in private homes, in hotel lobbies, in factories and grocery stores, on main street. His conviction that art should be multifunction is basic to the author's views on art in the city (he regards most American cities as dehumanizing wastelands of aesthetic squalor, dominated by the demands of the automobile), and leads him to a helpful discussion of its role in worship and the church. Developing an aesthetic that is basically grounded, yet always sensitive to the human need for beauty, Wolterstorff make a brilliant contribution to understanding how art can serve to broaden and enrich our lives.

30 review for Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Donovan Richards

    In Pursuit of Art One of my most favorite classes as an undergrad explored the philosophy of art. Why do we pursue art? What constitutes a work of art compared to just work? How does the productization of art alter its form? Can an artist be professional and be an artist? What is the role of beauty in art? Does art demand contemplation? Nicholas Wolterstorff approaches these questions theologically in Art in Action. Wolterstorff breaks down his argument into three basic parts. He begins the process In Pursuit of Art One of my most favorite classes as an undergrad explored the philosophy of art. Why do we pursue art? What constitutes a work of art compared to just work? How does the productization of art alter its form? Can an artist be professional and be an artist? What is the role of beauty in art? Does art demand contemplation? Nicholas Wolterstorff approaches these questions theologically in Art in Action. Wolterstorff breaks down his argument into three basic parts. He begins the process through an exploration of the overall function of art. Then, he questions the use of art within society. Finally, he journeys toward a Christian approach to aesthetic contemplation. Ultimately, Wolsterstorff presents his thesis quickly and succinctly: “In this essay, I want to argue, on the contrary, that works of art are objects and instruments of action. They are all inextricably embedded in the fabric of human intention. They are objects and instruments of action whereby we carry out our intentions with respect to the world, our fellows, ourselves, and our gods. Understanding art requires understanding art in man’s life” (3). In other words, art exists as art insofar as it operates in conjunction with human community. Defining Art So then, what constitutes art? Wolsterstorff suggests: “Art—so often thought of as a way of getting out of the world—is man’s way of acting in the world. Artistically man acts” (5). The human element of art, the mimicry of creation with the result of a form for human contemplation. That defines art against mere object. Whether sculpture, paint, the written word, the notes of a melody. The action of a human being behind the creativity produces art. Art in Society Given such a definition of art, the role of art in society emerges as its own divine being. Wolterstorff notes, “Much more common is the secular vision that aesthetic contemplation of works of art is itself of ultimate worth. Works of art are not windows onto a divinity beyond. They are themselves divine. ‘Art for art’s sake’s’” (49). Under such a position, the artist becomes divorced from art. Instead of the art form as a medium for communication between artist and audience, the artist pushes her creation out of the nest as soon as it hatches, allowing it to float aimlessly in the psyche of society. The Deeper Role of Art But, Wolterstorff contends this position. Art represents a deeper function in the cultural life of a community. “Over and over when surveying representational art we are confronted with the obvious fact that the artist is not merely projecting a world which has caught his private fancy, but a world true in significant respects to what his community believes to be real and important” (144). Quite often, life presents itself in a murky gray of confusion. The daily approach to how a community functions provides confusion to active community participant. Instead of representing an escape from reality, art operates as a key to translate reality in a more meaningful way. Art shines a light on what is real and important. From a Christian perspective, Wolterstorff suggests that art plays a critical role in bringing the Creation Mandate from Genesis 1:28 to life. Just as God, the first gardener, brings life to the world. God calls humanity to garden, to bring forth culture through creative acts. Art, then, becomes a mechanism through which shalom—the peace and flourishing of humanity—appears in the world. A classic text, Art in Action explores a theological approach to aesthetic creation and contemplation. Art plays an active role in society. So go forth and create. Originally published at http://www.wherepenmeetspaper.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Parkison

    For the most part, I found this book delightful. The greatest strength in this volume is in it's primary thesis: namely, that the typical impulse to restrict what constitutes as "artwork" to our modern "institution of high art" (basically, the assumption that *artwork* is only the sort of thing that is created for the sole purpose of aesthetic *contemplation*) is mistaken, and symptomatic of our ignorant participation of the "institution of high art," which claims exclusivity. Art, as Wolterstor For the most part, I found this book delightful. The greatest strength in this volume is in it's primary thesis: namely, that the typical impulse to restrict what constitutes as "artwork" to our modern "institution of high art" (basically, the assumption that *artwork* is only the sort of thing that is created for the sole purpose of aesthetic *contemplation*) is mistaken, and symptomatic of our ignorant participation of the "institution of high art," which claims exclusivity. Art, as Wolterstorff conceives it, is a tool, which has aesthetic dimensions, that is designed to be used in order to (essentially) fulfill the cultural mandate--and aesthetic *contemplation* is one among many of potential uses to this end. Wolterstorff labors to take us fish out of the water long enough to recognize that which is water, so to speak. In this way, Wolterstorff does a great service to his readers by de-snobberizing the topic of art, and validating other uses of art (his section on art and its relationship to liturgy at the end of the book is superb). I also appreciated Wolterstorff's unwillingness to be rigid about his own criteria in particular areas; he demonstrates a healthy calibration when it comes to such things. Aside from the fact that he goes a little wonky on his interpretation of Romans 1 (which consequently has pretty important implications on his understanding of the relationship between worship and art and idolatry), my main beef with Wolterstorff is what's left out of the book. I know, I know, it's unfair to criticize an author for failing to write the book the reader thinks he should have written, but I was hoping to have more of a Christian *definition* of aesthetics in a book who's sub-title is "Toward a Christian Aesthetic." Wolterstorff deals with aesthetics almost exclusively in terms of ethics, function, and teleology, but the question of ontology is never answered. I searched the pages of this little volume for a meta-start of aesthetics--or, if you will, an ontological source of aesthetics--and I came up empty. The closest thing I came to was this: "An aesthetically excellent object is one that effectively serves the purpose of contemplation for aesthetic delight." (pg. 158) Ok... but what constitutes as "aesthetic" in this conditional statement? Wolterstorff does an incredible job of explaining what constitutes as "excellent," but the key and central question of a definition of aesthetic is never answered. All in all, I believe Wolterstorff will be a great conversation partner for some of the secondary implications of my research in aesthetics, but unfortunately, I don't think that the he will have much to contribute to the heart of my research concerns.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brian Watson

    Wolterstorff has interesting and important things to say about art, things that you can learn if you're patient enough to deal with his verbosity. This book was not a pleasure to read because often Wolterstorff doesn't get to the point very quickly, and his points can be obscured because of that. Something else that didn't make the book a joy was the way the print was set: there are about 450-500 words per page. It would have been easier on the eyes if it were about 400. Now that I've got that o Wolterstorff has interesting and important things to say about art, things that you can learn if you're patient enough to deal with his verbosity. This book was not a pleasure to read because often Wolterstorff doesn't get to the point very quickly, and his points can be obscured because of that. Something else that didn't make the book a joy was the way the print was set: there are about 450-500 words per page. It would have been easier on the eyes if it were about 400. Now that I've got that out of the way, here's what Wolterstorff claims in the book: "works of art are instruments and objects of action" (x), not merely objects to be admired, objects of disinterested contemplation. The practice of putting art objects into museums for that disinterested contemplation is relatively recent, something that has been done primarily in the last two centuries. Earlier in time, it was understood that art could play diverse roles in life. One main take away is his discussion of "fittingness." The subject of a work of art should fit with its aesthetic character. One way of evaluating art is to discern whether its aesthetic character is suitable to its subject. We can also evaluate art by measuring its artistic and aesthetic excellence, whether it is beautiful, whether the parts are proportional and consonant. (Not all art need by beautiful, so this is one way of evaluating art.) We can see if a work of art demonstrates unity, complexity (or richness in variation), as well as fittingness. Wolterstorff also has some interesting things to say about the aesthetics of a city, which is not something we often think about in an analytical way, though we surely do judge cities on their aesthetics. [Finished reading on September 24, 2018.]

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    "Art for art's sake" Wolterstorff argues, is "disconnected from purpose" therefore it is an idolatrous end. There are great quotes in this book. I used this a lot in developing some lectures. Augustine and Tillich both speak of man's tendency toward "ultimate concern", there are some really good guidelines here for the Christian artist.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    This is the best book on theology and the arts I have read so far. A must read for anyone interested in that topic - or in the "purpose" of art in general. Wolterstorff argues that there is not one single purpose for art in our lives but that "art plays and is meant to play an enormous diversity of roles in human life." He flushes out how "works of art are objects and instruments of action. They are inextricably embedded in the fabric of human intention. They are objects and instruments of actio This is the best book on theology and the arts I have read so far. A must read for anyone interested in that topic - or in the "purpose" of art in general. Wolterstorff argues that there is not one single purpose for art in our lives but that "art plays and is meant to play an enormous diversity of roles in human life." He flushes out how "works of art are objects and instruments of action. They are inextricably embedded in the fabric of human intention. They are objects and instruments of actions whereby we carry out our intentions with respect to the world, our fellows, ourselves, and our gods." He does an excellent job of talking about our (mostly assumed) Western views of art and how it affects the way we interact with art and artists. Brilliant, fascinating, view-altering. Be warned - it's a bit of a tough read. But well worth it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    It's one of those reads that frustrates you because it's so philosophical and complex, but at the same time interests you and makes you think more deeply about something you thought was pretty black-and-white. At first I thought it was a hard read, but a little more than halfway through it became more intriguing and thought-provoking. I read it for a discussion group, and I think that really helped me internalize it and see how to apply the concepts to my philosophies about art. It made me reali It's one of those reads that frustrates you because it's so philosophical and complex, but at the same time interests you and makes you think more deeply about something you thought was pretty black-and-white. At first I thought it was a hard read, but a little more than halfway through it became more intriguing and thought-provoking. I read it for a discussion group, and I think that really helped me internalize it and see how to apply the concepts to my philosophies about art. It made me realize that we all have philosophies about art, and that they can have implications we might not agree with if we really think deeply about them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Howe

  8. 4 out of 5

    Austin Kam

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob Polivka

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Platter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stewart

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Baise

  17. 4 out of 5

    Austin Gannett

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debra

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Blackaby

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kevin McClain

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

  24. 4 out of 5

    Drewmast

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hullinger

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aron124

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yaser Makram

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Miller

  30. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.