Authored by: Dominic McIver Lopes

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  April  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782869
eBook ISBN: 9780203813034
Adobe ISBN: 9781136697142


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Suppose that, due to an episode of virulent iconoclasm, every painting, print and drawing were destroyed. Will we have lost something whose value nothing can replace? The answer is hardly obvious. We value paintings because they describe scenes, delight the senses, express emotions and communicate ideas, but we may value a work of film, dance, music or poetry for all the same reasons. Indeed, a film may describe a scene better than any painting, an aria express emotions more powerfully, a dance delight the senses more exquisitely, or a poem convey ideas more clearly. This suggests that if painting is to have a value, or values, of its own, then it must do at least some of these things in a distinctive manner. So, what is painting's distinctive character? An answer to this question is necessary if we also want to know what particular value or values accrue to paintings.

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