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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2017

Artist versus Aesthete

From the book Aesthetics Today
Jerrold Levinson


Two of the principal roles or positions in the aesthetic/artistic situation are those of artist and aesthete. The former is obviously primarily a creative role, while the latter is obviously primarily an appreciative role. And these roles, as we know, are also interdependent: aesthetes would have little, or at any rate less, to appreciate without artists; while artists would have little, or at any rate less, creative motivation without appreciators, with aesthetes as the most important vanguard therein. But what, more significantly, differentiates artist and aesthete? Do the basic impulses of the two tribes coincide, or are they rather in conflict? Is being an artist fully compatible with being an aesthete, or might there be a fundamental tension between those identities? Are the same talents, inclinations, and attitudes essential to being a successful artist as those which make for a successful aesthete, or are they at some level at war with one another? These are some of the questions that are explored in this article.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston