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Documents Flashcards Grammar checker. The sculptor Constantin Brancusi spent his life searching for forms as simple and at as those words—forms that seem to have existed forever, outside of time. Born a peasant in a remote village in Romania, he spent most of his adult life in Paris, where marl lived in a single small room adjoining a skylit studio.

Upon his death inBrancusi willed the contents of his studio to the French government, which eventually re-created the studio itself in a museum 1. Near the center of the photograph are two versions of an idea Brancusi called Endless Column.

Pulsing upward with great energy, the columns seem as though they could ,iving on forever. Perhaps they do go on forever, and we can see only part of them.

Directly in front of the white column, a sleek, horizontal marble form looking something like a slender submarine seems to hover over a disk-shaped base. Brancusi called it simply Fish. It does not depict any particular fish, but rather shows us the idea of something that moves swiftly and freely through the water, the essence of a fish.

Here again the artist portrays not a particular bird, but rather the idea of flight, the feeling of soaring upward. Light from a source we cannot see cuts across the work and falls in a sharp diamond shape on the wall behind.

The sculpture casts a shadow so strong it seems to have a dark twin. Before it lies a broken, discarded work. Mqrk photograph might make you think of the birth of a bird from its shell, or of a perfected work of art arising from numerous failed attempts, or indeed of a soul newly liberated from its material prison.

Brancusi took many photographs of his work, and through them we getleinn see how his sculptures lived in his imagination even after they were finished. He photographed them in varying conditions of light, in multiple locations and combinations, from close up and far away. With each photograph they seem to reveal a different mood, the way people we know reveal different sides of themselves over time.

Few of us, of course, can live editionn art the way Brancusi did. Yet we can choose to seek out encounters with art, to make it a matter for thought and enjoyment, and to let it live in our imagination. You probably live already with more art than you think you do. Very likely the walls of your home are decorated with posters, photographs, or even paintings you chose because you find them beautiful or meaningful. Walking around your community you probably pass by buildings that were designed for visual appeal as well as to serve practical ends.

We call such an experience an aesthetic experience. Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy concerned with the feelings aroused in us by sensory experiences—experiences we have through sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Aesthetics concerns itself with our responses to the natural world and to the world we make, especially the world of art. What art is, how and why it affects us—these are some of the issues that livinng addresses. This book hopes to deepen your pleasure in the aesthetic experience by broadening your understanding of one of the most basic and universal of human activities, making art.

Its subject is visual art, which is art that addresses the sense of sight, as opposed to music or poetry, which are arts that appeal to the ear. It focuses on the Western tradition, by which we mean art as it has been understood and practiced in Marj and in cultures with their roots in European thought, such as the United States. But it also reaches back to consider works created well before Western ideas about art were in place and across to other cultures that have very different traditions of art.


The impulse to make and respond to art appears to be as deeply ingrained in us as the ability to learn language, part of what sets us apart as humans. Where does the urge to make art come from?

What purposes does it serve? For answers, we might begin by looking at some of the oldest works yet discovered, images and artifacts dating from the Stone Ages, near the beginning of the human experience.

From a small cavity in the rock they felt a draft of air, which they knew often signaled a large cavern within. After clearing away some rocks and debris, they were able to squeeze through a narrow channel into what appeared to be an enormous underground room, its floor littered with animal bones. Pressing farther into the cave, the explorers played their lights on the walls and made an astonishing discovery: The walls were covered with drawings and paintings 1. It was evident that the paintings were extremely old and that the cave had remained untouched, unseen by humans, since prehistoric times.

The explorers agreed to name the site after the one in their number who had led them to it, Jean-Marie Chauvet, so it is called the Chauvet cave.

What they did not realize until months later, after radiocarbon testing had accurately dated the paintings, was that they had just pushed back the history of art by several thousand years. The Chauvet livinf were made about 30, B. Archaeologists have formed some tentative conclusions about how the paintings were done. Pigments of red and yellow ochre, a natural earth substance, along with black charcoal, could have been mixed with animal fat and painted onto the walls with a reed brush.

In powdered form, the same materials probably were mouth-blown onto the surface through hollow reeds. Many of the images are engraved, or scratched, into the rock. More intriguing is marm question of why the cave paintings were made, why their creators paid such meticulous attention to detail, livinng they did their work so far underground.

Mark Getlein- Living With Art (8th edition) Chapter 1.

The paintings clearly were not meant to embellish a dwelling space. The cave artists must have lived—slept, cooked their meals, mated, and raised their children—much nearer to the mouths of these caves, close to daylight and fresh air. Until the Chauvet cave was discovered, many experts believed that ancient cave paintings were done for magical assistance in the hunt, to ensure success in bringing down game animals.

But several of the animals depicted at Chauvet, including lions and rhinos and bears, were not in the customary diet of early peoples. Perhaps the artists wished to establish some kind of connection with these wild beasts, but we cannot know for sure. As fascinating as these mysteries are, they pass over perhaps the most amazing thing of all, which is that there should be images in the first place. The ability to make images is uniquely human. We do it so naturally and so constantly that we take it for granted.

We make them with our hands, and we make them with our minds. Lying out on the grass, for example, you may amuse yourself by finding images in the shifting clouds, now a lion, now an old woman. Are the images really there? We know that a cloud is just a cloud, yet the image is certainly there, because we see it.

Our experience of the images we make is the same. We know that a drawing is just markings on a surface, a newspaper photograph merely dots, yet we recognize them as images that reflect our world, and we identify with them. The experience was the same for Paleolithic image-makers as it is for us. All images may not be art, but our ability to make them is one place where art begins.

Height of stones, 13’6″. Neolithic period, Longshan culture, c. Today much ruined through time and vandalism, Stonehenge at its height consisted of several concentric circles of megaliths, very large stones, surrounded in turn by a circular ditch.


It was built in several phases over many centuries, beginning around B. The tallest circle, visible in the photograph here, originally consisted of thirty gigantic upright stones capped with a continuous ring of horizontal stones. Weighing some 50 tons each, the stones were quarried many miles away, hauled to the site, and laboriously shaped by blows from stone hammers until they fit together.

Many theories have been advanced about why Stonehenge was built and what purpose it served. In the 20th century it was discovered that Stonehenge is oriented to the movements of the sun, and one American astronomer went so far as to propose that the monument served as a sort of calendar, measuring out the year and even predicting eclipses. Most experts remain skeptical of such elaborate theories.

It seems likely that the site was used as a setting for public rituals or ceremonies, but beyond that nothing is certain. Perhaps, as Caro suggests, Stonehenge can do no more than stand as an example of how old and how basic is our urge to create meaningful order and form, to structure our world so that it reflects our ideas.

This is another place where art begins. Stonehenge was erected in the Neolithic era, or New Stone Age. The Neolithic era is named for the new kinds of stone tools that were invented, but it also saw such important advances as the domestication of animals and crops and the development of the technology of pottery, as people discovered that fire could harden certain kinds of clay.

With pottery, storage jars, food bowls, and all sorts of other practical objects came into being. This elegant stemmed cup was formed around B. Eggshell-thin and exceedingly fragile, it could not have held much of anything and would have tipped over easily.

Instead, great care and skill have gone into making it pleasing to the eye. Here is a third place we might turn to for the origins of art—the urge to explore the aesthetic possibilities of new technologies.

What are the limits of clay, the early potters must have wondered. What can be done with it? Scholars believe such vessels were created for ceremonial use. They were probably made in limited quantity for members of a social elite. To construct meaningful images and forms, to create order and structure, to explore aesthetic possibilities—these characteristics seem to be part of our nature as human beings.

Full text of “Living with art”

From them, art has grown, nurtured by each culture in its own way. In our society we tend to think of art as something created by specialists, people we call artists, just as medicine is practiced by doctors and bridges are designed by engineers.

In other societies, virtually everyone contributes to art in some way. Yet no matter how a society organizes itself, it calls on its artmakers to fulfill similar roles. First, artists create places for some human purpose. Stonehenge, for example, was probably created as a place where a community could gather for rituals.

Closer to our own time, Maya Lin created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a place for contemplation and remembrance 1. One of our most painful national memories, the Vietnam War saw thousands of young men and women lose their lives in a distant conflict that was increasingly questioned and protested at home.

At the heart of the memorial is a long, tapering, V-shaped wall of black granite, inscribed with the names of the missing, the captured, and the dead— some 58, names in all. Set into the earth exposed by slicing a great wedge from a gently sloping hill, it aft perhaps a modern entrance to an ancient burial mound, though in fact there is no entrance.

Instead, the highly polished surface acts as a mirror, reflecting the surrounding trees, the nearby Washington Monument, and the visitors themselves as they pass by.