University of Sussex
Kyriakou,_Angela.pdf (1.48 MB)

How valuable is the notion of artist’s intentions in the interpretation of painting?

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posted on 2023-06-08, 15:05 authored by Angela Kyriakou
In this project I examine the value of artistic intentions in the interpretation of painting. Broadly, my main question is: Are artist’s intentions valuable in the interpretation of painting and to what degree do they determine a painting’s meaning? To approach this question, I analyse the notion of intention based on G. E. M. Anscombe’s view and juxtapose the execution and interpretation of everyday actions with the execution and interpretation of actions in art making. In the development of the notion of intention I propose that artists are surrounded by other states too - usually conceived by commentators to be equal to intention - which are essential to consider. A second issue concerns the appearance of intentions in painting and to what degree the viewer can grasp them based on appearance. This is discussed along with actual intentionalism as this assumes that intentions are apparent in painting. I will dispute this assumption by claiming that art making is not a mere transferring of intentions on a two-dimensional surface and thus interpreting painting does not (only) involve recognition of intentions. This is also explored with a discussion about the artist’s success and the value of painting. Further, I investigate what we mean by ‘interpreting painting’. I make the distinction between ‘knowing’ and ‘understanding’ an artist’s intentions and suggest that interpretation of painting does not always include understanding of artistic intentions but involves a special kind of understanding.


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  • masters

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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