Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unity and indivisibility of the work of art

A depiction of Vitruvius presenting De Architectura to Augustus. 1684. From

There´s always this discussion about what is better in a project: firmitas, utilitas, venustas, based on Vitruvius´ definitions. In other words, some architects emphasize the structure, some the functionality, others the beauty.
Though, the three qualities cannot be separated in their resolution, this will give as a result, an ideal building. Here, some words by the philosopher Benedetto Croce, from his book AESTHETIC AS SCIENCE OF EXPRESSION AND GENERAL LINGUISTIC, 1909:

Another corollary of the conception of expression as activity is the indivisibility of the work of art. Every expression is a unique expression. Activity is a fusion of the impressions in an organic whole. A desire to express this has always prompted the affirmation that the world of art should have unity, or, what amounts to the same thing, unity in variety. Expression is a synthesis of the various, the multiple, in the one.
The fact that we divide a work of art into parts, as a poem into scenes, episodes, similes, sentences, or a picture into single figures and objects, background, foreground, etc., may seem to be an objection to this affirmation. But such division annihilates the work, as dividing the organism into heart, brain, nerves, muscles and so on, turns the living being into a corpse. It is true that there exist organisms in which the division gives place to more living things, but in such a case, and if we transfer the analogy to the aesthetic fact, we must conclude for a multiplicity of germs of life, that is to say, for a speedy re-elaboration of the single parts into new single expressions.
It will be observed that expression is sometimes based on other expressions. There are simple and there are compound expressions. One must admit some difference between the eureka, with which Archimedes expressed all his joy after his discovery, and the expressive act (indeed all the five acts) of a regular tragedy. Not in the least: expression is always directly based on impressions. He who conceives a tragedy puts into a crucible a great quantity, so to say, of impressions: the expressions themselves, conceived on other occasions, are fused together with the new in a single mass, in the same way as we can cast into a smelting furnace formless pieces of bronze and most precious statuettes. Those most precious statuettes must be melted in the same way as the formless bits of bronze, before there can be a new statue. The old expressions must descend again to the level of impressions, in order to be synthetized in a new single expression.

Read the book on line:

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