Dedicated to classics and hits.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Classical vs. Romantic Aesthetic Principles: Calculated-ness

  Classical, Romantic and Modern Aesthetics all have their own principles that they use to judge Artists and Art Products.   Classical Aesthetics was very rule-bound, so the judging of Artists was always accompanied by statements about whether specific works of Art obeyed or flouted supposed rules of Art.

  Romantic Aesthetics took the opposite posture, specifically attacking the allegedly unbreakable rules about what constituted good Art, and good Artists within the field of Classical Aesthetics.

  This transition generally took place between the end of the Renaissance and the mid 18th century, but the debate between Classical and Romantic Aesthetics remains a valid jumping off point for evaluating the Aesthetics of a specific Artist or Art product.

 Both Aesthetics have their own principles that they favor and dis-favor.  A main principle where they diverge can be described as the degree to which an Artist or Art work can be said to be "Calculated."

Andy Warhol



  As an example of this debate in the field of studio Art, you can thing of the debate over the aesthetic merit of an Artist like Jeff Coons, Michel Duchamp, and Andy Warhol.  In the field of Music, a relevant debate is the degree to which the work of an unknown Artist is perceived as "calculated" and how that does or does not impact the more substantial principle of Authenticity.

  An Artist embodying Classical Aesthetics is one who sees a specific "truth" and seeks to provide order and harmony in his/her Artistic universe.  An Artist who embraces Romantic Aesthetics would become enraged at the prospect of being deemed Calculated by a Critic, presumably because it conflicts with the core Romantic principle of Authenticity.

Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Can


  The role of the Market in all this is to encourage Artists who can understand while ALL POPULAR MUSIC EMBODIES Classical Aesthetic principles or order, harmony and technical excellence, while paying lip service to the Romantic principles that the contemporary audience for Art desires from it's Artists:  Alienation, Isolation, Dissatisfaction with "the way things are."   A specific Artist given commercial success will have to adjust his or her principles with the growth of an Audience:  As an unknown, it is best to embody Romantic Aesthetic principles to appeal to the "hard core" fans of a particular genre, much in the same way a Politician will "secure his base" in a Primary campaign, before "moving to the center" for a general election.

  Here, the successful embodiment of Romantic Aesthetics in early Artistic products is the equivalent of "securing your base" and the shift to embracing Classical Aesthetics the functional equivalent of "moving to the center."

  In this way, a young Artist is well advise to be conversant with Romantic AND Classical Aesthetic principles.  A common mistake is to IGNORE Classical Aesthetics on the theory that they 'don't matter'- but they do- because Classical Aesthetics appeal to a greater portion of the Audience for any Art then those who support Romantic principles.

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