When I started to think about the status of the arts in a utopian society, I soon realised that, far from being a minor issue, the creation and enjoyment of artworks challenge the very concept of utopia in ontological terms. While utopian thought defines the acquisition of philosophical and scientific knowledge as a major aim of the ideal society, aesthetic research does not appear to be fundamental. This leads us to ask ourselves about the importance of Beauty and Art in the utopian project. What is art in utopia? raises more problematic issues: “What is the function of art?” “What purpose does it pursue?” “Are there writers who have theorised Art as Utopia?” “Is the utopian world an aesthetic world?” The history of utopia re-viewed through the history of art opens up research perspectives which affirm, once more, the relevance of utopian thought in contemporary cultural debate, since the conceptions of art in utopia are inextricably linked with the aesthetic theories which have marked the evolution of philosophical thought in western culture. As a matter of fact, for utopian writers who pose themselves the problem of the aesthetic, the arts do not belong to a sphere separate from society but imply the involvement of the artist in a particular historical situation and in the dynamics of social or class life. For thinkers who are acutely aware of the close relationship between art and society, the formulation of utopian programs and the designing of ideal societies also involve aesthetics and the role of the artist. In utopia, art does not manifest itself in great artistic personalities. It mainly originates from a strong common urge and testifies to a collective ethos. The notion of art as expression of a taste shared and spread at various levels of culture maintains the established order and does not allow the artistic temperament to develop traits of genius which could transform the artists into subversive individuals. It is difficult, therefore, to admire masterpieces in utopia and even more difficult to meet great artists. Utopia fears the artistic process in its essence because, although it always involves craft, it is never learned and repeated mechanically but actually presupposes the expression of emotional drives that are dangerous for a rationally ruled world and, therefore, inadmissible. In utopia, then, art is basically moral and didactic. Investigating utopian conceptions of aesthetic pleasure enables to gain an insight into different utopian attitudes towards 1. art as mimesis and allegory; 2. artistic creativity as utopian activity; 3. the artist as a maker of alternative worlds. In this perspective, specific focus will be laid on aesthetic doctrines based on socialist ideology, which raise the problem of popular art and of aesthetics for the masses.

Art and Aesthetics in Utopia: William Morris’s Response to the Challenge of the ‘Art of the People’

SPINOZZI, Paola
2005

Abstract

When I started to think about the status of the arts in a utopian society, I soon realised that, far from being a minor issue, the creation and enjoyment of artworks challenge the very concept of utopia in ontological terms. While utopian thought defines the acquisition of philosophical and scientific knowledge as a major aim of the ideal society, aesthetic research does not appear to be fundamental. This leads us to ask ourselves about the importance of Beauty and Art in the utopian project. What is art in utopia? raises more problematic issues: “What is the function of art?” “What purpose does it pursue?” “Are there writers who have theorised Art as Utopia?” “Is the utopian world an aesthetic world?” The history of utopia re-viewed through the history of art opens up research perspectives which affirm, once more, the relevance of utopian thought in contemporary cultural debate, since the conceptions of art in utopia are inextricably linked with the aesthetic theories which have marked the evolution of philosophical thought in western culture. As a matter of fact, for utopian writers who pose themselves the problem of the aesthetic, the arts do not belong to a sphere separate from society but imply the involvement of the artist in a particular historical situation and in the dynamics of social or class life. For thinkers who are acutely aware of the close relationship between art and society, the formulation of utopian programs and the designing of ideal societies also involve aesthetics and the role of the artist. In utopia, art does not manifest itself in great artistic personalities. It mainly originates from a strong common urge and testifies to a collective ethos. The notion of art as expression of a taste shared and spread at various levels of culture maintains the established order and does not allow the artistic temperament to develop traits of genius which could transform the artists into subversive individuals. It is difficult, therefore, to admire masterpieces in utopia and even more difficult to meet great artists. Utopia fears the artistic process in its essence because, although it always involves craft, it is never learned and repeated mechanically but actually presupposes the expression of emotional drives that are dangerous for a rationally ruled world and, therefore, inadmissible. In utopia, then, art is basically moral and didactic. Investigating utopian conceptions of aesthetic pleasure enables to gain an insight into different utopian attitudes towards 1. art as mimesis and allegory; 2. artistic creativity as utopian activity; 3. the artist as a maker of alternative worlds. In this perspective, specific focus will be laid on aesthetic doctrines based on socialist ideology, which raise the problem of popular art and of aesthetics for the masses.
9789728025403
Utopia come genere letterario; utopismo; estetica; arte e società; Gran Bretagna; XIX secolo; William Morris
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/1192013
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