William Hogarth: The Analysis of Beauty 

Born three hundred years ago in Smithfield, London, William Hogarth established himself as a central figure in eighteenth-century English culture through his paintings, engravings, and outspoken art criticism. In this new edition of Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty—a unique work combining theory with practical advice on painting—Ronald Paulson includes the complete text of the original work; an introduction that places the Analysis in the tradition of aesthetic treatises and Hogarth’s own “moral” works; extensive annotation of the text and accompanying illustrations; and illuminating manuscript passages that Hogarth omitted from the final printed version.

In the development of English aesthetics, the Analysis of Beautytakes a position of high significance. Hogarth’s stature in his own time suggests the importance of his attempt to systematize and theorize his own artistic practice. What he proposes is an aesthetics of the middle range, subordinating both the Beautiful and the Sublime to the everyday world of human choice and contingency—essentially the world of Hogarth’s own modern moral subjects, his engraved works.
On Amazon
Find at your Local Library
PDF

Advertisements

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy: The Dance of Shiva: On Indian Art and Culture

Ananda Coomaraswamy, late curator of Indian art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, was unexcelled in his knowledge of the arts of the Orient, and unmatched in his understanding of Indian culture, language, religion, and philosophy. In this excellent reprint of a rare volume of essays, he reveals the essence of the Indian experience, rooted in "a constant intuition" of the unity and harmony of all life. Everything has its place, every being its function and all play a part in the divine concert led by Natarājā (Śiva), Lord of Dancers.
In a series of 14 stimulating and provocative essays, Coomaraswamy unfolds the vast metaphysic of India: the magnificent revelation of its art; its conception of the universe; social organization; attitudes toward feminism; problems of family; romantic love, and marriage. His sweeping commentary considers the "intellectual fraternity" of mankind; the venerable past as it survives side by side with emerging modern India; and the individual, autonomy, and repudiation of "the will to govern."
Enhancing the text are 27 black-and-white photographs — mostly of masterpieces of painting and sculpture from the second century B.C. to the eighteenth century, and including the glorious "Cosmic Dance of N taraja." This handsome volume offers rich insight into the art, philosophy, and culture of a fascinating forty-centuries-old civilization.

On Amazon
Find at your Local Library
PDF

Further Readings by the Author Available as PDF:
The Essential Ananda Coomaraswamy
Introduction to Indian Art
Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism
The Aims of Indian Art (text only)

Additional Resources
A Tale of a Curator and a Collector: The Ross-Coomaraswamy Bond (Asia Society Lecture)

Pierre Bourdieu: Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

No judgement of taste is innocent. In a word, we are all snobs. Pierre Bourdieu brilliantly illuminates this situation of the middle class in the modern world. France's leading sociologist focusses here on the French bourgeoisie, its tastes and preferences. Distinction is at once a vast ethnography of contemporary France and a dissection of the bourgeois mind.
In the course of everyday life people constantly choose between what they find aesthetically pleasing and what they consider tacky, merely trendy, or ugly. Bourdieu bases his study on surveys that took into account the multitude of social factors that play a part in a Frenchperson's choice of clothing, furniture, leisure activities, dinner menus for guests, and many other matters of taste. What emerges from his analysis is that social snobbery is everywhere in the bourgeois world. The different aesthetic choices people make are all distinctions-that is, choices made in opposition to those made by other classes. Taste is not pure. Bourdieu finds a world of social meaning in the decision to order bouillabaisse, in our contemporary cult of thinness, in the "California sports" such as jogging and cross-country skiing. The social world, he argues, functions simultaneously as a system of power relations and as a symbolic system in which minute distinctions of taste become the basis for social judgement.
The topic of Bourdieu's book is a fascinating one: the strategies of social pretension are always curiously engaging. But the book is more than fascinating. It is a major contribution to current debates on the theory of culture and a challenge to the major theoretical schools in contemporary sociology.

On Amazon
Find at your Local Library
PDF

Further Readings Available as PDF
Language and Symbolic Power
The Logic of Practice
The Forms of Capital
Social Space and Symbolic Power

Additional Resources:
Routledge Profile of Pierre Bourdieu
Documentary: Sociology is a Martial Art (2002)

Leo Tolstoy: What is Art?

During the decades of his world fame as sage & preacher as well as author of War & Peace & Anna Karenina, Tolstoy wrote prolifically in a series of essays & polemics on issues of morality, social justice & religion. These culminated in What is Art?, published in 1898. Although Tolstoy perceived the question of art to be a religious one, he considered & rejected the idea that art reveals & reinvents through beauty. The works of Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Baudelaire & even his own novels are condemned in the course of Tolstoy's impassioned & iconoclastic redefinition of art as a force for good, for the improvement of humankind.

On Amazon
Find at your Local Library
Free Ebook

Supplementary Resources:
Free PDFS/Ebooks of Other Titles
Manas Journal: October, 1962
Leo Tolstoy on Emotion Infectiousness and What Separates Good Art from the Bad Art

John Dewey: Art as Experience


Based on John Dewey's lectures on esthetics, delivered as the first William James Lecturer at Harvard in 1932, Art as Experience has grown to be considered internationally as the most distinguished work ever written by an American on the formal structure and characteristic effects of all the arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and literature.

On Amazon
Find at a Library Near You

Hyperallergic Article: Revisiting John Dewey's Art as Experience
Patricia Goldblatt (from Education and Culture, 2006): How John Dewey's Theories Underpin Art & Education
Recorded Lecture: History of Philosophy: John Dewey (Wheaton College)