ERIC Number: ED367579
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987
Reference Count: N/A
Clive Bell, the Doctrine of Significant Form and Visual Arts Communication. (A Review of Sources.)
McWhinnie, H. J.
This paper reviews some of the recent research relative to the thoughts and writings of the English art critic, Clive Bell, one of the leaders in British art criticism for the first part of the 20th century. Bell's conception of "art as significant form" is considered with specific reference to the following educators: (1) Roger Fry and Herbert Read; (2) Albert C. Barnes and John Dewey; and (3) Quentin Bell. In addition the doctrine of formalism is considered in light of current issues in art education such as discipline based art education (DBAE). Bell argued that aesthetic emotion arises from certain combinations of color and line, not from the subject matter of works of art. Significant form is what differentiates art form non-art. Herbert Read attempted to advance upon and improve the earlier formulations of both Fry and Bell by suggesting that it may not be significant form that separates art from non-art, but symbolic form. By so doing he moved aesthetic theory beyond the purely formal consideration. Bell may have conceptualized his idea of significant form as projections of the aesthetic object itself. The paper discusses Barnes's attempt to remove significant form from a property of the art object through his insistence on the significance of form as the basis for education in art. Barnes and Dewey evolved a method of art education that had a formal basis. The expression theory presents no consistent view concerning the implication of "art expresses feeling" theory. Susanne Langer, finally, presents an aesthetic theory that may reconcile the opposing assertions of formalism and expression theory. Borrowing elements of both, Langer achieves an aesthetics that is formalistic, expressionistic, and "semiotic" all at once. "Art," Langer says, "is the creation of forms symbolic of human feeling. (DK)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Artistic Style; Artistic Thought; Bell (Clive); Bloomsbury Group; Discipline Based Art Education; Formalism; Great Britain
Note: Paper presented at the Annual History of Art Education Conference (2nd, College Station, PA, October 1989).