What is Art?

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Overview

What is Art? What is value? What is good taste? What makes a cultured class? Tolstoy wrestled with these questions for fifteen years, and this book is the result of his fascination with the evolution of art, and its relationship with religion, commerce, and science. As the growing digitization of our world continues to provide new ways to create and consume art, and raises questions about its quality and its control, What is Art? challenges us to revert to the visceral, the authentic, and to think carefully about...

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Overview

What is Art? What is value? What is good taste? What makes a cultured class? Tolstoy wrestled with these questions for fifteen years, and this book is the result of his fascination with the evolution of art, and its relationship with religion, commerce, and science. As the growing digitization of our world continues to provide new ways to create and consume art, and raises questions about its quality and its control, What is Art? challenges us to revert to the visceral, the authentic, and to think carefully about how art can shape our collective future.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781909399259
  • Publisher: Roads Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/20/2014
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 614,233
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2012

    Well worth a read.

    This is a must-read for anyone interested in the purpose and meaning of art and aesthetics, and it provides a very good overview of the history of aesthetics. Given much of purportedly objective philosophical and aesthetic discourse, Tolstoy makes it clear that this is his view of things. Some of his view of things is colored by a religio-political perspective, which may resonate with some readers and not with others. Most will not agree with his assessment of his own literary work, and I think he is off about the relevance of "modern" visual art and poetry, but... Tolstoy punctures the aesthetic balloon that art is about beauty, and makes a solid case for the relevance of art as an integral part of being human, both individually and culturally. This is one of those books that you can disagree with about specifics and still embrace the pervasive theme.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2000

    Confused about art? Here's a guide for you!

    Do you have thoughts like 'well, maybe it's just me... They say Monet is great, but perhaps I just don't understand it...' I say, maybe it's your own gut that tells you what is the true art and what is not! This work by Tolstoy is a summary of his 15 year spiritual journey and research of art and what it's all about. And who is the author?! A genius himself! In this piece he tells us in plain language that the whole art of his century (with a few exceptions) is a product of a rotten class of people, a select few, whose main concerns were far from being common with the feelings of any normal human being. 'Art, nowadays, is for pleasure, not for bringing moral values in the form of genuine feelings to a reader'. This is basically the general idea of the work. At first, you feel dumbfounded reading this, but after a few pages, his statements start to make sense. Only a true moral feeling expressed in the right form, not necessarily beautiful, but understandable and to the point, is a true piece of art. Now, let's go back and think for minute: do I really like Shakespeare or is it the literary criticism the makes me feel that I am not a fully cultured person unless I acknowledge Shakespeare as the greatest of all, or at least one of the greatest writers (playwrights) ever? Even if I think that he was too verbose and vague to begin with? That sometimes you read him and whole paragraphs go by without you fully understanding what he's talking about? Mind you, he wrote for the theater, which means characters' sentences need to be pretty concise and clear, so that the audience could follow them. Anyway, Tolstoy will help you understand this problem. His main idea, again, is for art to convey the feelings of fraternity and love to the reader, not sexual desires, fake patriotism, chauvinism or those exquisite feelings of the upper class. Art is about compassion, love, oneness of all people and good healthy humor. I totally agree with that. One more thing: in this work, Tolstoy confronts the idea of goodness with the idea of beauty, saying that for the sake of beauty, the contemporary artists disregard goodness. This a very controversial statement, in my opinion, but there is a point there... Also recommended: of course, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Resurrection, Childhood, Boyhood & Youth, as true standards of literature, by which you can judge the works of others. All other fiction by Tolstoy is just as great and easy to read, especially his short stories, such as 'Master and Man', 'The Forged Coupon', etc. His other less known works that are revolutionary by their essence, are 'My Confession', 'What is My Belief (Religion)' and especially (really hard to find) 'Critique of Dogmatic Theology', where he expounded his views on religion and traditional Church Christianity with all its absurd, useless dogmas, which only divert your attention from what Christ really taught. This is a very controversial work, which was prohibited in Russia of his day, but which is certainly worth reading. By the way, why doesn't Everyman's Library publish it?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 28, 2014

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    Posted December 6, 2010

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    Posted May 18, 2011

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