Perception in the Arts

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Perception in the Arts

The subjectivity of perception makes art what it is. Art is all about perception and individuality, since everyone has a different background, experience, taste, and opinion about any artwork. To determine the extent to which perception plays a role in the development, and the existence, of the arts, it is essential to identify the knowledge issues of perception in regards to the area of knowledge. First, is perception consistent and definite? Does previous knowledge (prejudice) influence how one perceives an artwork? Is perception subjective? These questions will be explored using one all-purpose example in the arts: El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic artworks.

Firstly, perception is not universal in terms of time, as very evident with El Greco’s works. Virtually all of El Greco’s paintings were disdained by his contemporary painters and the public during his lifetime, 1541-1614. His works opposed too many aspects of Baroque style, which was popular in the 17th century. El Greco, therefore, had no followers and no audience at that time; his works were considered to be unnatural and overly-complex. However, in the 20th century, his works greatly influenced painters, leading to the birth of expressionism and cubism. For example, Pablo Picasso and Paul Cezanne studied El Greco’s structural compositions, his ability to interweave space and form, and the special effects of highlights, which were all disregarded in the 17th century. Also, Jackson Pollock, an expressionist, also followed El Greco’s expressionistic composition. Therefore, the “unnatural” and “overly-complex” features in the 17th century became the dominant characteristics of the new form of Expressionism. In general, perception is indefinite, with the ability to change over time: the time that a piece of art is created and perceived influences the way it is perceived.

Also, previous knowledge and experience significantly influences perception. For instance, The...
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