What is the meaning of "ART AS EXPERIENCE"?  Please help me; I need help

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Art as Experience" is a major writing on aesthetics [the science which deduces from nature and taste the rules and principles of art] by John Dewey.  In his work Dewey defines this theory:

Whenever there is a coalescence into an immediately enjoyed qualitative unity of meanings and values drawn from previous experience and present circumstances, life then takes on an aesthetic quality...an experience.

Art, then, is not merely the process by the artist; it involves both the artist and the active observer who encounter each other, their mental enviornments, and their culture at large.  That is, art is not just a recording of human experience, but it is an involvement of human experience.

This involvement is known to anyone who has listened to a musical piece and felt moved emotionally or psychologically.  It is known to anyone who has felt a thrill at observing the beauty of a painting.  It is known to anyone who has become identified with a character in a book and been melancholic at the finish of a novel, for it has felt as though one has left a friend. Or, it is known, too, the viewer of a drama in which one feels a connection with an actor, enjoys watching that actor, has learned something from that actor's character.  It is that simple:  a connection of souls, a communication by the artist with the soul, that creative part of the observer.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The notion of "Art as experience" implies that the creation of art must be something of personal and knowledgeable value.  In this conception of art, the creator must have intimate or a subjective link with their creation in order for both to have validity.  Art as experience is best applied when studying, for example, the Romantic poets, who stressed that the artist must fully believe and immerse themselves in their art.  This is a stark contrast to those who believe that art can be created from one's own mind, without a personal link to it.  For those that believe creating art is "simply a job," the art as experience folk have something to say about that.  In the belief of art as experience, the artists as sacrificer becomes a central archetype. These individuals sacrificed themselves to become more understanding about their art and produce better art.  A modern example of this would be Heath Ledger's acting approach to portraying the Joker in The Dark Knight.  His isolation in a hotel room with only the script and other elements that helped him "understand" the character more became a critical reason why when seen on the screen, we genuinely believe that Ledger is The Joker.  When examining art as experience, we begin to understand that there is a glory or artistic expression in who we are as human beings and what we do as authors of our own narratives.

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