|Andrew Wyeth, Long Limb, Tempera, 1999. Is is art?|
|Andrew Wyeth, Late Fall, watercolor on paper, 1981. This wonderful water color means something, however, if we don['t engage it, it's reduced to the status of the decorative, and neither the art nor the viewer benefits.|
|Richard Hamilton, collage, Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? 1956, generally sited as the earliest work of the "pop art" movement.|
|Still Life With Glass Flask and Fruit, Chardin, circa 1750.|
|Woman V, Willem de Kooning, 1952-2, Australia.|
|Le Grand Odalisque, JAD Ingres, 1814, the Louvre, Paris.|
I've taken two graduate courses on aesthetics, one taught by a logician in Philosophy and the other by an art instructor and both were excruciatingly painful. The reason it's such a difficult field is that it presents more problems than answers.
|Arizona Cow-boy, Frederic Remington, lithograph, 1901.|
|Bound Slave, unfinished marble sculpture, Michelangelo.|
|This is the still which prompted Trish to challenge whether or not I have "authority" to interpret why Holmes wears the orange scarf around his neck.|
[I]n Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, it cannot be proven that the costumer chose the colours in the tradition of art history as you present it.
From where we sit, as viewers, no deduction is really possible.
As Holmes said in writing, "It's a capital mistake to interpret without data."
The film as a whole is its own entity. It is not meant to be read as raw data which we can interpret.
To get at the raw data, you'd have to ask the costumer designer WHY she chose an orange scarf and whether or not she'd heard that the neck represents what we are yoked to.
If she chose the colour for other reasons :: Perhaps because it contrasts well with the blue light of the film so that we can see Holmes in crowd shots more readily :: then your spiritual analysis is an interesting exploration of your own confirmation bias and not a reflection of the truth of the film as it was intended by its creators.
What Trish is describing, the interviewing of the art director and accumulation of primary knowledge, its documentation and other facts regarding the creative process, is called "research." In my post A Call To Arms: The Wizard Of Oz & World War II, my reading/interpretation of the film didn't make any sense because the film makers had decided to remove a scene, but left a "tangent" scene in the film; once I discovered what had been removed, I was able to complete my analysis. Primary research, then, is invaluable and one of the first steps in training for students of the Liberal and Fine Arts.
|Ernest Hemingway at his typewriter.|
|Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal; Antonius and Death play chess.|
|Dream, photograph by Imogen Cunningham, 1910.|
Have you ever gone into a museum and just walked around looking at paintings and sculptures and then left without knowing why you bothered to go? That's not what you want and that's not what artists want. Great art (and there is art that isn't great) provokes a response, it means something to the artist and they want it to mean something to you, and that's where interpretation enters; as discussed above, there is the aesthetic response, which is valid but also very limited (not all artists in every medium limit themselves to childhood trauma, although some do, and just because one phase of an artist's work explores that, doesn't mean they don't enter into political or historical discourse as well). But, as in the Ditchley portrait of Queen Elizabeth II above, there exists a visual language just as there is verbal language and the work of art historians and film critics and play critics is to take the information provided by the decisions the artist(s) have made and translate those choices into a coherent statement which adds depth and meaning to the audiences' encounters with that work.
|Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso, 1907, MoMA, New York. This work of art means something, however, if we don't engage it, we neither hear the artist's voice nor do we hear our own.|
We as an audience engage with art because we want to hear it.
Interpreting art is necessary to knowledge about the art, and knowledge about ourselves, as individuals and as a culture.
Every person has a unique set of experiences and understanding about the world; artists bring their experiences and understanding into a format to bond with an audience and help us see those experiences in a way that we have previously not seen them. Symbols and theory is a way to do that, and that is what I employ in my posts. Art history has spent a couple of hundred years probing and studying this language, recording it and making it public for the greater benefit of society.
|The Young Alexander the Great being Tutored by Aristotle. The artist makes excellent use of symbols in this work, where are they and what statement are they making?|
The work of art is a deliberate act and, again, is "released" to the public for discourse; the artist becomes only a bystander, sharing their discourse with others, but by being a participant in the art, not an owner of the art and its "intentions." Please, do not hesitate to challenge me on my readings and interpretations, but, as always, I don't seek to make a definitive statement, that's not possible, nor desirable; I hope that my posts will exercise your own ability to see and understand.
May that give you confidence in your own interpretations and discoveries!