Artistic expression as interpretation

British Journal of Aesthetics 44 (1):162-174 (2004)
According to R. G. Collingwood in The Principles of Art, art is the expression of emotion--a much-criticized view. I attempt to provide some groundwork for a defensible modern version of such a theory via some novel further criticisms of Collingwood, including the exposure of multiple ambiguities in his main concept of expression of emotion, and a demonstration that, surprisingly enough, his view is unable to account for genuinely creative artistic activities. A key factor in the reconstruction is a replacement of the concept of expression with that of interpretation: what artists do is to interpret, rather than express, their initial emotions, in creative ways that may go far beyond their initial impulses. Thus more broadly the paper attempts to show that the concept of interpretation is just as central to understanding artistic creativity as it is in the analysis of the critical appreciation of artworks.
Keywords Collingwood   Aesthetics
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DOI 10.1093/bjaesthetics/44.1.10
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