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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 27, Issue 3, 2017

Values and Ideals. Theory and Practice: Part IV

Manjulika Ghosh
Pages 39-53

Autonomy of Art and Its Value

The problem investigated in this paper is that of the value of art in terms of its autonomy. The value of art does not reside in the imitation of life nor does it consist in its representational function. This idea is as old as Plato. Art’s autonomy wherein we locate its value, is actually the autonomy of the artist. The artist is not merely free to choose his subject matter, he is also free to bring about the contrasts and the syntheses among the diverse constituents of the work in a particular medium. Artist’s function in this regard is one of problem-solving. To the aesthetic mind problem solving suggests finding for the line, arrangement of mass, colour, shape, etc., a support which passes through them and goes beyond itself to the less definable. If this autonomy of the artist is compromised, art becomes causally determined and is made to serve some ideological agenda. There are, indeed, great works of art which have inspired the human mind and enabled it to withstand unabashed inhumanity; in which man has taken refuge in suffering and death. It may promote inter-cultural understanding. Yet, the value of art is not to be judged by ends extraneous to it. It is not given antecedently nor is it an established property of things. The value of art is intrinsic to it unfolding the inexhaustibility of the aesthetic spirit.

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