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Concerning ‘The Science of Art': Commentary on Ramachandran and Hirstein

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Abstract:

To the historian of art, it is evident that the two authors’ notion of ‘art’ is of very recent date, and not shared by everybody. They claim: ‘The purpose of art, surely, is not merely to depict or represent reality -- for that can be accomplished very easily with a camera -- but to enhance, transcend, or even to distort reality’ (Ramachandran and Hirstein, p. 16). They do not explain how one could photograph Paradise or Hell, the Creation of the World, the Passion of Christ, or the escapades of the ancient gods -- all subjects that can be found represented in our museums. Nor is it more legitimate to generalize from certain Indian conventions of representing the female nude than it is for the academic tradition to take the Venus de Medici for the same purpose. Even a fleeting visit to one of the great museums might serve to convince the authors that few of the exhibits conform to the laws of art they postulate. [followed by response from V.S. Ramachandran]

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: London

Publication date: August 1, 2000

imp/jcs/2000/00000007/F0020008/1036
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