Clive Bell and Aesthetics

1587 Words7 Pages
Form in nature and art has always been linked to aesthetic experience. Those who concern themselves with the form of works of art, whether they are artist, philosopher or critic are more likely to be labelled a formalist. There are artists who become so oppressed by the need to express themselves or transmit a message that they neglect their proper artistic work. Oscar Wilde in the Decay of Living (1891) complains that neglect of form is all too common among his contemporaries who nonetheless lay claim to serious consideration. When consciously working with form, many artists feel hostility towards content and form. Often the content refuses to fit the form and therefore the form will alter the meaning of the content. It is said that the real creative achievement occurs when an artist finds a way of relating form and content in such a way that they are no longer opposed but reinforce each other, so that we have a whole image that cannot be disassembled into parts. The aesthetic experience just is the experience of form, felt to be pleasing or beautiful when its object is good form or significant form: “By creating for ourselves an imaginary experience or activity, we express our emotions; and this is what we call art.” (Collingwood, R. G., 1958: pg151) Influential of the early theorists, at the end of the eighteenth century, was formalist Immanuel Kant with his theory of aesthetic response. It alleged that viewers could arrive at similar interpretations of an artwork if they experienced the work in itself. Art should be considered independently of any purpose or utility other than aesthetic. In the 1920s Clive Bell and Roger Fry introduced Formalism, which was inextricably linked to Modernism, although the former was a result of the latter. They supposed that an artwork transmitted “aesthetic emotion” from the artist to the audience on account of its
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