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Who are your favorite painters, and why?

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I frankly much prefer photography to almost any painting. Painting is way too interpretive, and always gets reality wrong.

Photography attempts to reproduce reality as it is, but the value of art lies in re-creating reality, in presenting reality as it could and should be.

Those who justify it tend to fall back upon emotions and meanings that frankly I dont really understand -- and find it hard that any true objectivist would understand.

If you are capable of experiencing emotions and understanding their meaning in ordinary life, then I don't know why you would have such difficulty with art, art being a heightened experience of the same.

(And, please note that "Objectivist" is spelled with a capital "O.")

And so much art is either directly or indirectly inspired by and used to support religion.

Don't confuse the concretes of the work with the sense of life it may portray.

But I really dont see how any painting can be useful or enjoyed -- it is such a clear distortion of reality and the truth.

Larry, I think it is time that you seriously consider one of the more subtle suggestions I have made in previous threads, and read more of Ayn Rand. For the subject discussed here, the book The Romantic Manifesto would be best. Alternatively, you might want to consider reading Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand for a systematic presentation of the entire philosophy.

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Photography attempts to reproduce reality as it is, but the value of art lies in re-creating reality, in presenting reality as it could and should be.

Well I think many would disagree with you -- photography can be extremely interpretive as well. But it does so using reality as its base. One cannot say that what is in the picture does not exist (leaving aside digital photography, which frankly I think should be banned!)

If you are capable of experiencing emotions and understanding their meaning in ordinary life, then I don't know why you would have such difficulty with art, art being a heightened experience of the same.

It is not that I am against emotions, I am against emotions being used as a basis for determining reality. And that is what many (granted not all) artists are trying to do.

(And, please note that "Objectivist" is spelled with a capital "O.")

Sorry, that was an inadvertent mistake.

Larry, I think it is time that you seriously consider one of the more subtle suggestions I have made in previous threads, and read more of Ayn Rand. For the subject discussed here, the book The Romantic Manifesto would be best. Alternatively, you might want to consider reading Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand for a systematic presentation of the entire philosophy.

Um, I was not purporting to channel Ayn Rand here, rather to convey my own position on the issue based upon my reading of Ayn Rand as well as others. But thanks for the suggestion.

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Um, I was not purporting to channel Ayn Rand here, rather to convey my own position on the issue based upon my reading of Ayn Rand as well as others.

Which is why I suggested reading more of Ayn Rand, especially material directly related to issues that you directly comment on. In the past few days those issues have encompassed ethics, politics, and art, with implied issues in epistemology and metaphysics. Perhaps we can better gauge your perspective if we knew just what works by Ayn Rand you have read.

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Which is why I suggested reading more of Ayn Rand, especially material directly related to issues that you directly comment on. In the past few days those issues have encompassed ethics, politics, and art, with implied issues in epistemology and metaphysics. Perhaps we can better gauge your perspective if we knew just what works by Ayn Rand you have read.

I am not sure how knowing what I have read helps ascertain the quality of my reasoning. Unless the idea is to channel Ayn Rand. Maybe I then misunderstood. I thought the idea here was to discuss issues using the principles of Objectivism, including the use of reason. If you think there is a fault in my reasoning, by all means point it out and argue why it is wrong. I think that reasoned argument is the best response to other arguments. Quoting others is of course useful, but is more useful if used in the context of, and in support of, the argument one is trying to make.

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I am not sure how knowing what I have read helps ascertain the quality of my reasoning. Unless the idea is to channel Ayn Rand.

The idea is to understand what Ayn Rand actually wrote. If one's goal is to discuss and apply Ayn Rand's philosophy (as it is on this board), it definitely improves the quality of one's reasoning to base one's arguments on facts.

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Perhaps we can better gauge your perspective if we knew just what works by Ayn Rand you have read.

I am not sure how knowing what I have read helps ascertain the quality of my reasoning.

I did not say that knowing what you have read by Ayn Rand might help to "ascertain the quality of [your] reasoning." I said it might help us to "gauge your perspective." The quality of reasoning is apparent in the arguments made, but the perspective, or context, from which the arguments come, are, at times, of some import. For instance, personally I am more lenient, more forgiving, towards the mistakes of a young person new to Objectivism, one who has only read a small bit of the works, than I am towards an older person who has had ample time to think about and attempt to integrate material from a substantial reading of Ayn Rand. The arguments, and attitude, of both may be mistaken, but I am inclined to be more patient with the former than with the latter.

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The idea is to understand what Ayn Rand actually wrote. If one's goal is to discuss and apply Ayn Rand's philosophy (as it is on this board), it definitely improves the quality of one's reasoning to base one's arguments on facts.

By facts do you mean what Ayn Rand wrote, or do you mean empirical facts? (Of course the former is a part of the latter, but it is a much smaller universe than the latter.)

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The idea is to understand what Ayn Rand actually wrote. If one's goal is to discuss and apply Ayn Rand's philosophy (as it is on this board), it definitely improves the quality of one's reasoning to base one's arguments on facts.
By facts do you mean what Ayn Rand wrote, or do you mean empirical facts? (Of course the former is a part of the latter, but it is a much smaller universe than the latter.)

Both!

If you are going to discuss empirical facts, it is important to know what they are and to understand them correctly.

If you are going to discuss Ayn Rand's ideas, it is important to know what they are and to understand them correctly.

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Photography attempts to reproduce reality as it is, but the value of art lies in re-creating reality, in presenting reality as it could and should be.

First, I should mention that I am not very familiar with what Ayn Rand had to say about the topic of art. I have been focusing on other aspects of her phylosophy - slowly building my understanding of all the inter-connections. The topic of art is certainly on my reading list.

I am interested in knowing:

What is the value in re-creating reality as it should be (but it is not) instead of what it actually is?

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On my way home from work I realized that I did not provide enough context for my question.

I certainly see the value in re-creating reality the way it could and should be when it comes to man's made objects. The esthetics of man's creations can always be improved upon.

My question was directed toward the non man made.

I am not sure if this is the best example but it is the one which came to my mind. The symmetry of facial features is generally esthetically pleasing. What would be the value in painting only perfectly symmetrical faces? Only very few actually display such perfection and that is not going to change. Shouldn't we find beauty in what is real to most instead what is real to only a few? (I know that the last sentence came out like some sort of collectivism but I did not know how to word it differently).

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What is the value in re-creating reality as it should be (but it is not) instead of what it actually is?

The selection process by which the artist re-creates reality isolates and focuses on that which is important and relevant to the artist's theme, and ignores that which is unimportant and irrelevant. In real life we are surrounded by a countless number of concretes, but with art, the artist selectively and purposefully chooses aspects of concretes to suit his purpose. A selective re-creation of reality, properly integrated into a new whole, becomes a metaphysical statement, a view of how reality could or should be, which is then capable of being directly perceived and directly experienced emotionally, on a level which expresses a fundamental view of life.

With photography one can add artistic touches in a multitude of ways, but ultimately it is the actual concretes of reality that form the result. This is not to say that the result cannot be beautiful and enjoyable -- there are many, many really wonderful photographs. But with art, say, painting, every single element is purposefully selected -- the theme, the choice of subject, the choice of color, the technique employed, etc. -- and these choices are purposefully guided by the artist's values. The result is not a reproduction of the physical world, but the re-creation of that world into a metaphysical world of the artist's choosing, a world of essentials, essentials relevant to the theme.

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I guess in essence what I am asking is:

What is the value in re-creating reality as it could be or perhaps should be when it comes to the objects we can not change?

If there is no value, is it then not appropriate to 'romanticize' the reality that we can not change?

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I am not sure if this is the best example but it is the one which came to my mind. The symmetry of facial features is generally esthetically pleasing. What would be the value in painting only perfectly symmetrical faces? Only very few actually display such perfection and that is not going to change. Shouldn't we find beauty in what is real to most instead what is real to only a few? (I know that the last sentence came out like some sort of collectivism but I did not know how to word it differently).

I am not positive that I understand your concerns, so correct me if I am wrong. Are you saying that a painting of a beautiful woman should show the imperfections of her skin because most women have such imperfections? Should Dagny Taggart have had some cellulite? Or a painting of a man of strength should show him with a little pot belly because most men are a bit overweight? Should John Galt have have had a bald spot? If this is what you are saying, then I would ask just how you hold the notion of ideals?

Again, if I have misunderstood you, then please correct me.

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A selective re-creation of reality, properly integrated into a new whole, becomes a metaphysical statement, a view of how reality could or should be, which is then capable of being directly perceived and directly experienced emotionally, on a level which expresses a fundamental view of life.

I think this answered my question. Thank you :D

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I guess in essence what I am asking is:

What is the value in re-creating reality as it could be or perhaps should be when it comes to the objects we can not change?

If there is no value, is it then not appropriate to 'romanticize' the reality that we can not change?

The purpose of art is not to escape from reality, but to experience a heightened essence of it. That not all men can achieve physical perfection, does not stop those men from appreciating in art the physical form of their masculinity. And even with those things for which we can all achieve perfection, like the state of moral perfection, art can give us a concretization of that state for which we can directly perceive its essence.

Romanticizing reality, in the best meaning of that term, is exactly what art is all about.

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I think this answered my question. Thank you :D

You're welcome, but I'm surprised if it was that simple. In any case, Ayn Rand's book The Romantic Manifesto presents her truly unique view of art, its essence and its purpose. A marvelous read.

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I am not positive that I understand your concerns, so correct me if I am wrong. Are you saying that a painting of a beautiful woman should show the imperfections of her skin because most women have such imperfections? Should Dagny Taggart have had some cellulite? Or a painting of a man of strength should show him with a little pot belly because most men are a bit overweight? Should John Galt have have had a bald spot? If this is what you are saying, then I would ask just how you hold the notion of ideals?

Again, if I have misunderstood you, then please correct me.

My concern was with ignoring/evading imperfections that are part of unchangeable reality.

For me the most significant, the most moving, the most inspirational aspect of Ayn Rand's heroes is their ideal character and not their physical beauty. Is it esthetically pleasing? Absolutely. However, I would not have been any less moved by them if they were not physically ideal, if their physical beauty was not brought into focus. I also would not see any value in focusing on their physical imperfections ether. What would have been the reason for that?

"Any man physically" is able of achieving the virtue that was John Galt.

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My concern was with ignoring/evading imperfections that are part of unchangeable reality.

It is not evading, it is what one chooses as being metaphysically important/good. Yes, people can have pimples on their face, but that is not what I choose as important. It comes down to what the artist chooses to glorify, exemplify or to hold as the greatness which could and should be.

I know that their is poverty in the world but it is not what I would choose as important. I know that people carry fat in places, balding in other places or asymetrical faces, but that is not what I want to see in art. To exemplify the sublime in man, means to demonstrate or illustrate the heroic, the noble, the great, the grand or the exalted. This is not done by showing the average man with a pot-belly and his with hips as big as the doorway.

So, the question for you to answer is what do you hold as important or good?

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And even with those things for which we can all achieve perfection, like the state of moral perfection, art can give us a concretization of that state for which we can directly perceive its essence.

This brings further clarification for me. Thank you. I will get to The Romantic Manifesto as soon as I can (I already own it).

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This is not done by showing the average man with a pot-belly and his with hips as big as the doorway.

Sorry for the mistake but the above quote should read; ...and his wife with hips...

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For me the most significant, the most moving, the most inspirational aspect of Ayn Rand's heroes is their ideal character and not their physical beauty. Is it esthetically pleasing? Absolutely. However, I would not have been any less moved by them if they were not physically ideal, if their physical beauty was not brought into focus. I also would not see any value in focusing on their physical imperfections ether.

Notice Miss Rand's description of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead.

Evening clothes were not becoming to Ellsworth Toohey; the rectangle of white shin front prolonged his face, stretching him out into two dimensions; the wings of his tie made his thin neck look like that of a plucked chicken, pale, bluish and ready to be twisted by a single movement of some strong fist. But he wore his clothes better than any man present. He wore them with the careless impertinence of utter ease in the unbecoming, and the very grotesqueness of his appearance became a declaration of his superiority, a superiority great enough to warrant disregard of so much ungainliness.

The mind and body are an integrated whole, and Miss Rand's description of Toohey's physical appearance reflects Toohey's character (or lack thereof). If the villains can be purposefully portrayed physically, why shouldn't the heroes also physically reflect their inner being? Man is not a disembodied soul.

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Notice Miss Rand's description of Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead.

The mind and body are an integrated whole, and Miss Rand's description of Toohey's physical appearance reflects Toohey's character (or lack thereof). If the villains can be purposefully portrayed physically, why shouldn't the heroes also physically reflect their inner being? Man is not a disembodied soul.

Man is not a disembodied soul but in reality there is no corellation between physical appearance (assuming appropriate level of personal groming) and person's character. Beautiful people can be evil; ugly people can be virtuous.

Ellsworth Toohey would not have appeared any less evil to me if he was physically ideal.

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Man is not a disembodied soul but in reality there is no corellation between physical appearance (assuming appropriate level of personal groming) and person's character. Beautiful people can be evil; ugly people can be virtuous.

Ellsworth Toohey would not have appeared any less evil to me if he was physically ideal.

I think this should show you how integrated Ayn Rand was and how integrated her art still is. She chose to (I think), illustrate the important as good and handsome/beautiful and the unimportant as being evil and ugly.

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My concern was with ignoring/evading imperfections that are part of unchangeable reality....I would not have been any less moved by [Ayn Rand's heroes] if they were not physically ideal, if their physical beauty was not brought into focus. I also would not see any value in focusing on their physical imperfections ether. What would have been the reason for that?

Sophia,

As great as Atlas Shrugged is, it doesn't represent the width and breadth of all possible expressions of Romanticism. Romanticism does not demand that a writer bring any particular element into focus -- except man's volition (speaking essentially). Once a writer is on a Romantic premise, how he achieves his ideal is largely up to him. (The nature of his craft will place some demands on him, of course, but that's a different issue.)

Read any number of O'Henry's stories, and you will see that he does not always focus on the character's physical attributes. For that matter, a character could have a broken countenance if it befit the theme, and still be profoundly Romantic. Read Hugo's The Man Who Laughs. BUT -- this latter example is crucially not the same as taking an otherwise heroic character and giving him a pot belly just because you wanted to.

Finally, a story could be on the Romantic premise and not be like Objectivism in other aspects. Confusing? That's why a good reading of The Romantic Manifesto may be something you would enjoy. It's one of my personal favorites, so I'm always happy to recommend it.

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Man is not a disembodied soul but in reality there is no corellation between physical appearance (assuming appropriate level of personal groming) and person's character. Beautiful people can be evil; ugly people can be virtuous.

Which, if true, only further demonstrates the value of art in purposefully re-creating reality. Integration of values is a good. In real-life we do the best we can with what genetics has given us; thankfully, art is not so constrained.

Ellsworth Toohey would not have appeared any less evil to me if he was physically ideal.

So then, would you say that physical descriptions of characters in novels are irrelevant?

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