Aesthetics

No, it’s not some kind of new exercise regime or new brand of cosmetic. It is the study of why art affects us the way it does … amongst other things. It is to do with appreciation of qualities like beauty and how to define these effects. There are some big puzzles. For instance, if a forger paints a copy of a Van Gogh that is indistinguishable from the original why is it of lesser value? Let’s say the difference can only be known by carbon-dating the materials used for instance. That means that the original and the fake as you look at them are absolutely identical and yet one is worth a fortune while the other one isn’t for reasons that have nothing to do with what it looks like. So; the aesthetic value of the painting is not just in the appearance of the art or even the technical merits of the artistic talent put into creating it but in the facts of the history of it. Now, isn’t that bizarre? Because it is the first one, painted by a particular person at a particular time it is worth much more, even if it looks identical to a copy. How can two pieces of art that look identical be of a different value? In the end, you see, it is all in the mind – the value we choose to give to something and the values by which we decide that even if they look identical they are not of identical value. It only goes to show how subjective the experience of art really is. Possibly there are as many versions of the Mona Lisa as the number of people who have looked at it :-)

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