Art for Art's Sake

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Ivette M. López

The Value of Art: A study of John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde’s Views on Art

In the late nineteenth century a movement known as “Art for Art’s Sake” occurred, which consists of the appreciation of art for what it truly is; just art. At that time many critics tried to find moral and intellectual meanings within works of art. Many artists united to defend art, two authors who defend the concept of art are John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde. In his work From The Stones of Venice, John Ruskin exults and admires gothic architecture because its gives the artist the freedom of creativity and self-expression. In his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde alike Ruskin defends the concept that art is “useless” and that it must be admired for what it is, which is just simply art. The following goes into more detail on the ideas Ruskin and Wilde have on art.

In From the Stones of Venice [The Savageness of Gothic Architecture], John Ruskin presents his fondness for Gothic architecture because of the freedom it gives to man, he also points out that he finds southern Europe more appealing than Northern Europe because it is darker. In the following, Ruskin presents the system of architectural ornaments; in which he particularly prefers revolutionary ornaments because there is no difference between the architect and the workers and so they are all equal. The following passage presents each system:

 The systems of architectural ornament, properly so called, might be divided into three:1. Servile ornament, in which the execution or power of the inferior workman is entirely subjected to the intellect of the higher; 2. Constitutional ornament, in which the executive inferior power is, to a certain point, emancipated and independent, having a will of its own, yet confessing its inferiority and rendering obedience to higher powers; and 3. Revolutionary ornament, in which no executive inferiority is admitted at all....
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