Denis Dutton has got it Wrong

I was looking for inspiration and found it.  With all due respect, Denis Dutton, philosophy professor, tells us in his book , “The Art Instinct”, that we favor certain images on calendars because they remind us of the serenly beautiful African savanna our prehistoric ancestors roamed.  BUNK.  I am surprised at this.  He is a philosopher and (I fear) too much into the “beauty” thing discussed by Plato.

Leo Tolstoy got it right:

“Art is one of the means of intercourse between man and man”

Art is a communication of a thought.  A work can be considered art when a connection is made with another human being and an emotion or thought is communicated.   Some of it may be beautiful, but not all art is beautiful, nor is it meant to be.

Before our ancestors had written language they drew pictures in caves to communicate where or how to kill bison, or the death of kin, or the strength of horses, and that these pictures were understood by the viewers.  Humans communicate with whatever means possible.  We feed on it.  It is what connects us.  No man is an island, and all that.

Every letter in this blog is a work of art.  When I put certain letters together, they produce an image in your brain.  What do you see in your mind when you read this word “human”?  

Does the image below communicate anything to you?  Maybe the artist just likes Red.  Do we think it is an ancient reflection of the blood spilt from a kill or the African sunset?  Hmmm, maybe that is why some of us like the color red.  I’ll buy that.   The instinct, however, is to tell a story – to communicate.  Share, share share.  It is what we are all about.

Auspicious Good Fortune - acrylic on canvas 24x24

Auspicious Good Fortune - acrylic on canvas 24x24


5 thoughts on “Denis Dutton has got it Wrong

  1. There’s a surprising tendency toward reductionism in philosophy (or what passes for philosophy) these days. Dutton’s account may be based on valid scientific evidence, but as you point out it completely ignores the humanistic reasons for why we make art. At best his comment is “correct”, but it doesn’t rise to the level of truth.

  2. He is somehow trying to prove that it is instinct. Creating art may be instinctive, but the reason it is created can be gleaned from any artist. It is a method of communication where words fall short. Thank you, so very much for communicating with me on this. Your words are written like a true artist.

  3. can imagine. but still sending a lot of power and thats not only about the red. normally i would say this yellow pint…???? (sorry for my english) but here its on the right place and also in the perfect tone. good piece…i like it. (there is some interesting space in this work, a kind of subtil communication. Thats the point for me)

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