Tacit Meanings of Art

By Pentti Määttänen.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In Art as Experience John Dewey distinguishes between linguistic meanings and tacit (non-verbal) meanings typical for artworks. Sentences state meanings but artworks express them. All perceived objects and qualities are carriers of meaning. In artworks, for example paintings, the colours, lines the composition and rhythm between them are charged with hidden consequences, they refer to the past experiences that are related to habitual activities associated with these qualities. This evolution long experience remains mostly subconscious, but it becomes conscious in the form of emotions as signs of experienced values.
The pragmatist notion of meaning, according to which meanings are habits of action, makes it explicit how artworks as qualitative wholes are emotionally expressive and how these tacit (non-verbal) meanings are used for expressing and communicating shared social experiences. The tacit meanings of art function in connection with linguistic and symbolic meanings. This multilayered system on meanings is the framework within which artworks are experienced and interpreted.

Keywords: Art, Meaning, Expression, Pragmatism

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.259-264. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 597.041KB).

Dr. Pentti Määttänen

Docent, School of Art and Design, Art Department, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland

I have a PhD in philosophy,have been teaching philosophy at the University of Helsinki and at the Aalto university, published books and journal articles on pragmatism, philosophy of mind, epistemology and philosophy of art. My present work deals with pragmatist aesthetics.

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