Aesthetic Value as a Function of Emotional Context, Description, and Evocation

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Jean Michel Basquiat’s “Riddle Me This, Batman”, produced in 1987 is a Neo-Expressionist figurative painting (see fig. A.1). It was first shown in Paris’s Galerie Yvon Lambert. Two months after its debut, the piece exchanged hands several times, emerging briefly from private collections only to be snapped up at auction. Most recently, it was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for over six-million USD. Mark sagoff 119 Million dollar pieces were common in the 1980’s. During this time, the price of neo-expressionist works increased steadily. In the market place of public bidding-wars and private sales it seemed that art no longer had intrinsic value. The ever-increasing prices of these works drove many artists to manufacture pieces in turn making huge profits. However, this rather pessimistic consumerist view of art did not replace the true aesthetic value of Basquiat’s “Riddle Me This, Batman”. Rather it is Basquiat’s ability to produce and express reflections of culture, identity, and of the pains of life, which resist the monetary function of aesthetic value, in favor of an aesthetic standard as a matter of taste. Aesthetic value is determined by a standard. Typically, this standard is called beauty. While beauty is conceptually simple, easily evoked in the mind’s eye, it becomes far more complex when used as a scale of aesthetic judgment. Treating one piece of art as more beautiful than another implies that beauty can be measured, and in order to do this measuring an objective standard must be used. There are two problems in understanding beauty to be an objective standard. In his essay, The Aesthetic Hypothesis Clive Bell illustrates that aesthetic value is a matter of taste: All systems of aesthetics must be the personal experi... ... middle of paper ... ...ened to be Warhol’s assistant. Warhol’s death in February 1987 caused Basquiat to sink into depression. His addition to heroin resurfaced, gaining momentum until his death only 18 months later. Works Cited Aristotle, . Metaphysics. Aristotle: Selections. Edited by Terence Irwin and Gail Fine. Indianapolis: Hackett , 1995. Bell, Clive. The Aesthetic Hypothesis. Aesthetics. Edited by Susan Feagin and Patrick Maynard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Brooklyn Museum, "Exhibitions: Basquiat ." Accessed December 3, 2011. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/basquiat/1983.php. Kant, Immanuel. Art and Genius. Aesthetics. Edited by Susan Feagin and Patrick Maynard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Sotheby’s, Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Last modified November 9th, 2010. Accessed December 4, 2011. http://tinyurl.com/7abp44j.

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