Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 223

Art is not separated from life. Dewey argues that although we may think of art as objects that hang in a museum, in fact, we all have aesthetic or artistic experiences all the time in our daily lives, such as when we read comics or listen to popular music. Art, in fact, is an imaginative expression of our lived experiences.

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Art is not an object. Art arises from the experiences of the artist who observes the world carefully and creates the object. Art also comes to fruition in the experience of the viewer as he or she encounters the object. Art, therefore, is active and experiential. "Art denotes a process of doing or making," writes Dewey.

The meaning of art flows from its form, says Dewey. The poet Yeats says much the same thing when he asks: "How can we know the dancer from the dance?" in his poem "Among School Children." However, Dewey says, that a work of art's meaning is not limited to the artist's intention in creating it. Once it is released into the world, people beyond the artist understand it in ways that can and do give it new meaning.

The mean of art changes over time: Because art is only alive when it lives in people's experience, how we understand its meaning will change as our society changes.

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