I see two major elements (or emotions) in art. First and foremost for visual art is visual aesthetics (this requires its own elaborate, and separate discussion). In order to lift an art work to the top level, another element is required. This element I’ll call the sentiment element, or the personal emotions element. Both elements connect to our emotions and must unite and work together for the best art.
You see a lot of amateur art that has a strong sentiment element but is weak with the aesthetic element. Another artist may have a similar sentiment element but is stronger with the aesthetic element and creates a better work of art.
Although I love the work of Henri Matisse, and always want to look at his work, I find that after the initial impact that can hit me in the stomach, my reaction to his work can cool fairly quickly. His work has a very high level visual aesthetic emotion but may be weaker in the sentiment element. Because of this very strong aesthetic pleasure element, which really is the subject of his work, and his personal color and design aesthetics can be thought of as his sentiment element, his work continues as that “good armchair”, providing much pleasure and relaxation at the end of a tiring day.
With regards Andy Warhol, some critics seem to suggested that he intentionally takes out the sentiment element, by eschewing direct personal emotion and referencing some of our baser fascinations in the public media. But this is Warhol, this is his sentiment element; and, like Matisse, he is strong with the visual aesthetics which are a good match for this sentiment element.
Art, through the interplay between the aesthetics and sentiment, engages the intellect. But engaging the intellect by itself is not enough. Both aesthetic and sentiment elements must be strong for the best art.
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