Aesthetics Notes 2


Mark Sagoff     On the Aesthetic and Economic Value of Art 119


Aesthetic and economic value are not intrinsically connected

Economic value is revealing the societal significance of a work, art works are not only economic commodities but “totems” that identify clans and cultures

Aesthetic value is difficult to define, should not merely be pleasure

Pleasurable things may harm us, not make us better or be morally edifying

Iron law – prices for prime art objects always increase 121

Works of art endure for the foreseeable future, they have no natural life-span, they are assumed never to perish 121

Majority of art objects must be kept out of circulation, for market purposes 122

Forgeries, except in very special cases, are worthless, even if they are technically perfect 123

Art objects have no practical function or use 124

Enduring art works, with few and special exceptions, cannot be created directly, they must be found or discovered long after they have been rejected or thrown out 124

“Totem” – the word totem was used only by the Ojibway to describe their ornamental poles. Later ethnographers like Durkheim used the term to cover any art or ceremonial object with which an individual tribesman identifies his group or clan. 128

Great art can be included as totems

Should we include totems as great art



Whitney Chadwick  Women Artists and the Institutions of Art 129


The institutions of painting in 18th century England prevented women from being recognized as great artists

Examples from the Royal Academy

Representations of cultural assumptions

Marginal role traditionally ascribed to women 129



Griselda Pollock  Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity 131


Class, gender and economic factors restrict who can be participants in culturally significant practices

Paradigm subjects for “modernist” painting are not open to women – bars, brothels, cityscapes which women did not experience

Ways of seeing, and ways of describing, employ paradigms that reflect and reinforce power and privilege within a culture

Gendered practices of paintings by Manet, Cassatt, Morisot

Limited sphere of women’s influences, contrasted with men’s gaze and ability to move freely –women in private domestic spaces 135


Public/private, masculine/feminine 136

The “Gaze” of modernity as covetous and erotic 138

Gender roles and economic class – the virgin and the whore, the Scarlett O’Hara and the crack welfare mama 140




Kathleen Higgins  The Music of Our Lives 141


Music – variety of kinds of music, formal and informal

Music should be recognized for reflecting the ethical values of a society (this can include a number of examples of world music that western culture may not have recognized)

Note the examples from punk rock 141

Navajo music as medicinal, not emotional 141

Note the quote from Frank Zappa 142 

Consider the references to Islamic society – sacred singing of Quran/Koran verses is a noteworthy and valued art form, but playing instruments is frowned upon 143

Kate Bush whalesong in Moving 144

Music is an experience, and a social phenomenon 145-146

Walkman example – not the decline of all western culture, but a communication breakdown 146



Ivan Karp  How Museums Define Other Cultures 149


Cultural images that depict “the Other”

Portraying the other as controlled by emotions, unable to use reason

The claim that Africans practice animism 151

“Primitivism” example, controversial 1984 exhibition 152

Contrasted with the “Magiciens” exhibit which had a metanarrative of inclusiveness

The egalitarian strategy of “assimilation” – at what cost? 153