Navigazione – Mappa del sito

HomeNumeri79ArticoliOn Works and Workings of Art: A P...


On Works and Workings of Art: A Perspective from Comparative Aesthetics

Peng Feng
p. 74-87


The ontology of artworks tells us that a work of art, for example, a painting, cannot be identified as either physical or mental object. By the same token, this paper argues the working of art or artistic labor cannot be identified as either physical or mental labor. However, the works and workings of art are regarded as either physical or mental in the prevailing aesthetic theory. The main reason is that classical Western metaphysics is bifurcated. However, traditional Chinese division of ontological categories is not a bifurcation but a trifurcation, which consists of dao道, xiang象, and qi器. This tripartite distinction avoids substantivism, while at the same time providing a framework that encompasses both the objective and the subjective face of the art work, by means of a dynamic exchange between the two poles. This paper shifts our perspective from classical Western metaphysics to traditional Chinese metaphysics and sets up a dialogue between Chinese and Western aesthetics. The ontological status of works and workings of art is neither physical nor mental, but the “betweenness” of the two.

Torna su

Termini di indicizzazione

Parole chiave:

arte, lavoro, intermediazione, pittura
Torna su

Testo integrale

  • 1 Thomasson 2004: 78.

1The ontology of art, or more precisely the ontology of artworks, is a hot topic in contemporary aesthetics. Its central question, as conceived by Amie Thomasson, is this: “what sort of entities are works of art? Are they physical objects, ideal kinds, imaginary entities, or something else?”1 The question is not easy to answer. The diverse and even incompatible answers put us in a quandary. In this essay, I try to answer this question from a perspective drawn from traditional Chinese aesthetics. Further, I will clarify the characteristics of workings of art based on my position about the ontological status of works of art. My question is: what kinds of labor are workings of art? Are they physical or mental, creative or mechanical, enjoying or suffering? Although art includes various artforms, such as dance, music, drama, sculpture, painting, photography, film, and so on, in this essay I will focus on painting as an exemplary case.

1. Xiang and ontology of artworks

2A work of art, such as a painting, can be reduced to neither a physical nor a spiritual object. Therefore, it seems to be difficult to locate its ontological status within the bifurcation characteristic of traditional Western metaphysics, according to which entities are divided into mind-independent physical objects on the one hand, and mental objects on the other hand. As Thomasson points out:

  • 2 Thomasson 2004: 89.

[T]o accommodate paintings, sculptures, and the like, we must give up the simple bifurcation between mind-independent and mind-internal entities, and acknowledge the existence of entities that depend in different ways on both the physical world and human intentionality.2

3However, if we shift our perspective from classical Western metaphysics to traditional Chinese metaphysics, the ontology of artworks seems less problematic. The Chinese division of ontological categories is not a bifurcation but a trifurcation, which consists of dao, xiang, and qi. Furthermore, this tripartite distinction is at once a way of avoiding substantivism and at the same time provides a framework for encompassing both the objective and the subjective face of the art work, by means of a three-way relationship. According to classical Western bifurcation, we can say, roughly, that dao is similar to the abstract or mental object, and qi, the concrete or physical object. This bifurcation leaves no room for xiang, which seems to be a “third entity” existing between the physical and the mental, but its main function is to create a dynamic exchange between the two poles and to ease the confrontation between them.

  • 3 Pang 1995: 230.
  • 4 Jullien 2009: 227.
  • 5 Jullien 2009: 228.
  • 6 Pang 1995: 231.

4What is xiang? According to Pang Pu’s interpretation, “xiang can be divided into two kinds: objective xiang and subjective xiang”.3 Roughly speaking, objective xiang means “phenomenon” and subjective xiang, “representation”. Therefore, xiang cannot be interpreted as simply “image”. As François Jullien points out, “the same Chinese term, xiang, means both ‘image’ and ‘phenomenon’”.4 Jullien further states that, “Chinese thought, then, never entirely separates the fact of coming about (as phenomenon) from that of reproducing (as image).”5 Since xiang can be both subjective and objective, Pang Pu locates xiang between dao and qi. He writes, “‘what is beyond form is called dao, and what is beneath form is called qi.’ In addition of dao and qi, there is xiang, that is ‘what is within the appearing of form.’”6 Since xiang is located in between dao and qi, it is neither dao nor qi. On the one hand, dao itself is invisible. Dao appears within xiang. In this sense, xiang is the manifestation of dao. On the other hand, qi has its fixed or concrete xing (form), which xiang lacks. Xiang appears vividly and changes constantly but does not crystallize into qi, which is equipped with, or confined to, a fixed or concrete xing.

  • 7 Pang 1995: 235.

5Within the trifurcation of dao-xiang-qi, the ontological status of artworks can be appropriately clarified. The status of artworks is neither dao nor qi but xiang. As Pang Pu points out, “xiang …… is the soul of poetry’s ‘image-thinking’”.7

2. Betweenness

6Since the ontological status of artworks is xiang that is located in between dao and qi, Chinese artists strive to capture the “betweenness” (xiang) rather than the poles (dao or qi). Jullien highlights that Chinese artists take the “betweenness” or xiang as their object by saying that:

  • 8 Jullien 2009: 4.

Painters and poets in China do not paint things to show them better, and, by displaying them before our eyes, to bring forth their presence. Rather, they paint them between “there is” and “there is not,” present-absent, half-light, half-dark, at once light-at once dark.8

7In order to manifest the “betweenness” or xiang, Chinese painters prefer to depict things in transition between presence and absence – an object displaying the character of betweenness. At the beginning of his book The Great Image Has No Form, Jullien quotes Qian Wenshi’s remarks on landscape painting. Jullien interprets Qian’s remarks as follows:

  • 9 Jullien 2009: 1-2.

Rather than figure states that are distinct—in both senses, sharp and in opposition, rain / fair weather—the Chinese painter paints modification. He grasps the world beyond its distinctive features and in its essential transition. Each aspect implies the other, even when they are mutually exclusive, and one is discreetly at work even as the other is still on display. Behind the curtain of rain sweeping the horizon, one already senses, by the breaking light, that the inclement weather is going to lift. In the same way, fair weather soon sends out a few precursory signs that it will be clouding over.9

8In short, the Chinese painter prefers to depict a landscape in a transitional state, for example, in transition between fair weather and rain. Such a landscape displays the character of betweenness.

  • 10 Goodman 1968: 5.

9However, Jullien faces difficulties when he talks indiscriminately about the painted object and the painting/depiction itself. According to Jullien, a landscape in its transition between fair weather and rain is itself xiang. It is between dao and qi, presence and absence. If this is the case, then there would be no need for an artist to paint it, since the object of the painting would itself already be a work of art. Furthermore, such a painting, being a depiction of xiang in this way, could be described through the terms of imitation or beautification that are more readily associated with Western art theory. Although we may talk about rivers and mountains as if they were pictures or images, this is not actually the case. The ontological distinction between a landscape itself and a landscape painting is of crucial importance. No contemporary aesthetician can ignore the distinction. As Nelson Goodman points out, “A Constable painting of Marlborough Castle is more like any other picture than it is like the Castle, yet it represents the Castle and not another picture—not even the closest copy”.10 Ontologically, paintings and castles belong to different kinds of thing. Their ontological status must not be confused. Although some painting techniques and styles, such as trompe l’oeil and hyper-naturalistic painting, can be mistaken for the objects they represent, this experience is, after all, an illusion. The fact that two objects can give us the same visual experience does not guarantee that they are of the same kind.

10Even if we ignore the distinction at an ontological level, adopting a naïve realism and equating a painting directly with the objects it represents, Jullien’s view still remains unconvincing, because this realist interpretation cannot distinguish painting from photography. This places the greatest importance on finding an appropriate object to paint, with the act of painting itself being of secondary importance. For Qian Wenshi (the painter whom Jullien mentions) then, it would be more important to wait for the emergence of a landscape in transition between fair weather and rain than to paint it.

  • 11 Qi 1996: 70.

11This is not the case, however. Chinese painters are drawn to betweenness, but this does not mean that they prefer a depicted object in a state between two elements or two conditions. Rather, it is between the depicted subject-matter and the depicting medium. As Qi Baishi (齐白石) remarks, “Painting is wonderful in between likeness and unlikeness. Mere likeness is kitsch, while unlikeness is deceit”.11 “Likeness” means that a painting closely resembles its object or subject-matter; “unlikeness” means that a painting does not resemble anything. In a likeness painting, we see only the depicted subject-matter, not the medium; in an unlikeness painting, we see only the medium, not the depicted subject-matter; in a painting between likeness and unlikeness, we see both the depicted subject-matter and the medium. Qi’s notion of “betweenness” is thus very different from that of Jullien. It is the former, not the latter, that has been taken as the mainstream view of traditional Chinese aesthetics of painting.

3. Twofoldness

12Relating closely to the idea of “betweenness” is the theory of “twofoldness” that Richard Wollheim and others have been developing since the 1970s. In Wollheim’s twofoldness hypothesis, two elements are distinguished: the object and the medium of painting. Wollheim writes:

  • 12 Wollheim 1980: 142.

That the seeing appropriate to representations permits simultaneous attention to what is represented and to the representation, to the object and to the medium, and therefore instantiates seeing-in rather than seeing-as, follows from a stronger thesis which is true of representations. The stronger thesis is that, if I look at a representation as a representation, then it is not just permitted to, but required of, me that I attend simultaneously to object and medium.12

13In Wollheim’s writing, “object” means the subject-matter of a painting, and “medium” refers to its physical marks. For example, the object of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers are the sunflowers themselves, whilst the medium are the pigments that have been used to create the painting.

  • 13 Polanyi 1970: 655-669.

14However, Wollheim never articulated how twofoldness works. Based on his body-mind relationship hypothesis, Michael Polanyi tries to clarify its mechanism.13 According to Polanyi, our awareness of an object can be distinguished into focal awareness and subsidiary awareness. These are functions of mind and body, respectively. Twofoldness comes from the cooperation between our mind’s focal awareness of the object and body’s subsidiary awareness of the medium. Aesthetic appreciation of painting involves the cooperation between body and mind.

4. Art working as mental labor

  • 14 Kristeller 1952: 507-508.

15If artworks can be classified as between spiritual and material object, can art workings, by the same token, be classified as between mental and physical labor? Historically, the classification of art workings has varied from time to time and from theory to theory. Art workings can be classified as either physical or mental labor. According to Paul Kristeller’s research, the arts in the Middle Ages were divided into two groups: the seven liberal arts and the seven mechanical arts. The Modern System of the Arts (or Fine Arts) were not grouped together but divided into those two groups. Music and poetry were belonged to the liberal arts, while painting, sculpture, architecture, drama, and so on were classified as mechanical arts.14 Generally speaking, people labored with their minds in the liberal arts, whilst in the mechanical arts they did so with their bodies. Because the artforms that today make up the Fine Arts were classified in the Middle Ages as belonging to both liberal and mechanical arts, it is not easy to determine from this classification whether art workings are physical or mental labor.

16However, the trend in the development of art workings seem to be from physical labor to mental one. In Croce-Collingwoodian aesthetics, art is conceived to be nothing but the intuition, imagination, or expression that only takes place in the artist’s mind. Collingwood writes:

  • 15 Collingwood 1958: 130.

A work of art need not be what we should call a real thing. It may be what we call an imaginary thing. A disturbance, or a nuisance, or a navy, or the like, is not created at all until it is created as a thing having its place in the real world. But a work of art may be completely created when it has been created as a thing whose only place is in the artist’s mind.15

17Nevertheless, in Croce-Collingwoodian aesthetics, the significance of physical production of art is not completely denied. A work of art need not be physical, yet physical production is needed to the expression and communication of the imaginative experience. With a painting, for example, Collingwood argues:

  • 16 Collingwood 1958: 305.

What has been asserted is not that the painting is a work of art, which would be as much as to say that the artist’s aesthetic activity is identified with painting it; but that its production is somehow necessarily connected with the aesthetic activity, that is, with the creation of the imaginative experience which is the work of art.16

18What I am now asking is not, as Collingwood conceives, “whether, on our theory, there must indeed be such a connection”, but how this connection happens. I shall return to this question later. To the extent that Collingwood acknowledges the connection between physical and mental labor in art working, he is far less extreme than contemporary conceptual artists in emphasis on the mental performance. As Sol LeWitt asserts:

  • 17 LeWitt 1967: 80.

In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.17

  • 18 Danto 1964: 580.
  • 19 Danto 1988: 134.

19This “conceptual turn” in contemporary art is strongly supported by Arthur Danto’s philosophy of art. Danto argues that “[t]o see something as art requires something the eye cannot de[s]cry—an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art: an artworld”.18 Based on this insight, Danto declares, after Hegel, that art has reached its end. According to Danto, contemporary art, such as Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box, “only raised the question,” i.e. the question of discernibility. However, “it lacked the power to rise to an answer” and so “philosophy was needed”.19 In this sense, art can be said to turn into philosophy. Interestingly, Danto admits that the indiscernibility problem raised by art can be solved in the mode of Chan Buddhism, of which Danto regards as philosophy rather than religion. Danto recounts one paragraph of the yulu (recorded conversations) of Qingyuan in his writing several times:

  • 20 Danto 1964: 579.

Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got the very substance I am at rest. For it is just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.20

20If art is identified with philosophy, especially with Chan Buddhism, then art is evaporated as an atmosphere of theory, and art workings, accordingly, become a kind of mental labor, i.e., the meditation of Chan Buddhism. As Elisabeth Schellekens points out, the conceptual turn in contemporary art “not only affects the ontology of the conceptual artwork but also profoundly alters the role of the artist by casting her in the role of thinker rather than object-maker”.21

5. The revival of physical labor

21Like Collingwood, Harold Rauschenberg is against equating painting and artifact. However, Rauschenberg takes a completely different direction in developing his view of art. According to Collingwood, the art proper is only an imaginative experience in the artist’s mind, while in Rauschenberg’s view, it is an action or event that cannot be totally controlled by the artist’s consciousness. This action or event is primarily physical rather than mental. In “The American Action Painters”, Harold Rosenberg writes:

  • 22 Rosenberg 1952: 22.

At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act – rather than as a space in which to reproduce, redesign, analyse or “express” an object, actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.22

  • 23 Rosenberg 1952: 22.

22It should be point out that the action in Rosenberg’s mind is totally different from Collingwood’s production or externalization. The artist’s production, in Collingwood’s conception, is nothing but a representation or copy of the image already in her mind. However, in Rosenberg’s action theory, the image does not exist beforehand, but rather is created by the action. Rosenberg writes that “[t]he painter no longer approached his easel with an image in his mind; he went up to it with material in his hand to do something to that other piece of material in front of him. The image would be the result of this encounter”.23

  • 24 Rosenberg 1952: 23.

23Furthermore, the artist’s action can be interpreted as “action-in-itself” that is free from any obscuration of abstract concepts and principles that are normally regarded as objects of thinking in the mind. Rosenberg writes, “The big moment came when it was decided to paint … Just TO PAINT. The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation, from Value — political, aesthetic, moral”.24

24This action-in-itself is regarded by Rosenberg as the artist herself. What is an artist is her action, her life, not merely her thought. Rosenberg continues:

  • 25 Rosenberg 1952: 49.

What is a painting that is not an object, nor the representation of an object nor the analysis or impression of it nor whatever else a painting has even been — and which has also ceased to be the emblem of a personal struggle? It is the painter himself changed into a ghost inhabiting The Art World. Here the common phrase, “I have bought an O.” (rather than a painting by O.) becomes literally true. The man who started to remake himself has made himself into a commodity with a trademark.25

25It seems reasonable to believe that Rosenberg’s action theory might be part of the story. But it cannot be the whole story, for at least two reasons. First, it is uncertain that the artist-as-ghost inhabiting The Art World, as the evidence of the artist’s existence, surpasses the artist-as-herself inhabiting The Real World. And second, everyone is an actor, including the buyer herself, and there is no reason for the buyer to buy only the painter-as-actor.

  • 26 Dufrenne 1987: 148.
  • 27 Dufrenne (1953) tr en. 1973: 48.

26Mikel Dufrenne’s phenomenology of aesthetic experience can partly eliminate our doubts about Rosenberg’s action theory. Dufrenne asserts, “the painting is not before his [the painter’s] eyes, but in his hands”.26 The action is crucial to painting, because it manifests the aesthetic depth of both subject and object. The poles of subject and object bifurcated in the real world can reach their reconciliation in the sensuous element in painting. Dufrenne argues that “the sensuous is an act common both to the sensing being and to what is sensed”.27 Without the action, the physical labor, the painter cannot reach this aesthetic depth, i.e., the sensuous, in which the reconciliation of subject and object can be achieved. The purpose of painting is neither to represent the external world nor to express the internal one but reveal the aesthetic depth shared by both the external and the internal. Dufrenne calls this depth “pre-real” or “Nature”. He argues:

  • 28 Dufrenne 1987:144.

This pre-real, inasmuch as it does not attain the level of the real and is not negated by determinations constituting it, is an archi-real or, if one prefers, a surreal… It is the pre-real that is pregnant with the possible, that expresses a possible world. Lacking expression—incapable of producing aesthetic experience—are the objects that do not call upon us to grasp them as pre-real, that will never be anything but real.28

27According to Dufrenne, the pre-real is more real than the real at least in the phenomenological sense. The pre-real touches the original of the world, which Dufrenne called “Nature”. The pre-real and Nature are a special real that breeds the possibilities of the real world. Dufrenne argues:

  • 29 Dufrenne 1987:145.

It is a real that is the basis of everything given, founded within it. This real is the hearth of all possibilities; it is Nature as poesis. So we can say […] that painting is a workshop in which primary processes exhibit themselves, but if these processes are in effect unassignable to any particular subject, it is because they are the very movement of appearing, and must be attributed to Nature. Of this Nature, since it is prior to man – it produces him – man has no idea: as soon as he is there, and he is always there, Nature becomes world. But in this experience of the pre-real, in which he almost returns to the moment of his birth, man can sense that ground sustaining him. Nature is a kind of pre-pre-real, and the possible worlds evoked by the expressivity of the pre-real attest to its depth and power; they give us a sense of Nature, and thereby cause us to discover the exterior world, since this world is the visible, that is, the face that Nature assumes when man is there to see. Thus the appearing of the painting to some extent mimics the appearing of Nature, the advent of being to appearing.29

28For painting, the key is neither representation nor expression, but the very object of representation and expression, i.e., the depth of the subject and the world. According to Dufrenne, painting, in a sense like philosophy, aims to reveal the truth of the world that is not the real but the possible. The real realizes the possible and at the same time hides the possible. Painting cannot reveal the possible, the pre-real, or Nature by way of mimicking the real or expressing an imaginative experience. It is only through the action of painters that the aesthetic depth of both subject and object becomes visible from the invisible.

29Because painting is an action, it has an advantage over philosophy in revealing the pre-real. Action, unlike thinking, is not bound by the knowledge or preconceptions in hand and therefore can lead to the experience of astonishment that philosophy lacks. John Cogan argues:

There is an experience in which it is possible for us to come to the world with no knowledge or preconceptions in hand; it is the experience of astonishment. The “knowing” we have in this experience stands in stark contrast to the “knowing” we have in our everyday lives, where we come to the world with theory and “knowledge” in hand, our minds already made up before we ever engage the world. However, in the experience of astonishment, our everyday “knowing,” when compared to the “knowing” that we experience in astonishment, is shown up as a pale epistemological imposter and is reduced to mere opinion by comparison.30

30Dufrenne’s aesthetic experience is similar to this experience of astonishment. It comes from action rather than from imagination or thinking. The action of painters is different from the action of ordinary people in that the former touches the pre-real whilst the latter stays in the real. The reason buyers buy the painter-as-actor is because the painter makes the aesthetic depth visible to us from the invisible.

6. The reconciliation of physical and mental labor

31Since traditional Chinese metaphysics prefers trifurcation to bifurcation, dynamic exchange to fixed opposition, physical and mental labor in art are not either-or. They can coexist without conflict. In “Remarks of Painting Bamboo,” Zheng Xie (1693-1766) writes:

  • 31 Zheng 1986: 1173.

During my stay in a riverside inn in a pleasant autumn, I got up one morning and walked out to see a bamboo grove. I found it wreathed with mist, filled with dew and shadows. The whole atmosphere was floating among the branches and leaves. As I was there contemplating on it, an inner drive to paint was stirred up and thus activated within my mind. As usual the bamboo inside the mind was not the same as it was inside the eyes. Then I grinded the ink and prepared the paper. When the brush touched the paper, I made changes quickly, and so the bamboo drawn out by the hand was not the same as it was inside the mind.31

32Zheng identifies three kinds of bamboo, namely, bamboo-inside-the-eyes, bamboo-inside-the-mind, and bamboo-inside-the-hand. Painting is thought as neither imagination nor action but the cooperation between observation, conception, and action. Painting should reach a balance of the three.

33Comparing with Western painting, Chinese painting especially emphasizes the aesthetic property of writing. To learn painting, one must learn its language, i.e. the brush-and-ink. As Shen Zongqian (1736-1820) writes:

  • 32 Shen 1967: 163. The English translation is modified by the author.

The beginner must first ask on seeing a work whether this is a [good] brush-stroke or not, and whether it is [controlled] ink-work or not. If it is not, it is not a “painting” even with the best composition. If it is, then it does not matter whether it is heavy or thin, or has many strokes or few. For this mastery of brush and ink has this marvelous power to make interesting lines that are alive, even without much experience of [the depicted objects]. [If it is not a good brush-and-ink,] even if one has travelled and seen a great deal and read a great deal, it does not matter to painting!32

34Chinese painters emphasize writing (brush-stroke) because it is only through writing the meaning can be expressed. What needs to be emphasized is that the meaning is shared by the painter and the painted object, which is somehow close to Dufrenne’s idea that the aesthetic depth is the common ground of both subject and object. As Zhu Yunming (1461-1527) writes:

  • 33 Zhu 1985: 1072.

What is difficult to painting is not representing the shape but grasping the meaning. If one grasp the meaning and express it, the things can be represented on a small piece of silk. It is not so hard at all! Someone says, “Plants and trees are heartless, how can they have meaning?” This man doesn’t know that everything between heaven and earth has its meaning of living. The Nature’s creation is too mysterious, strong, and expansive to be described.33

35When Roger Fry talks about the aesthetic pleasure derived from the calligraphic line, he seems to emphasize that the line can manifest the subject aspect of the meaning. Fry writes:

  • 34 Fry 1919: 62.

The calligraphic line is the record of a gesture, and is, in fact, so pure and complete a record of that gesture that we can follow it with the same kind of pleasure as we follow the movements of a dancer. It tends more than any other quality of design to express the temperamental and subjective aspect of the idea...34

36However, when Wang Lü (1332-1391) argues the relation between shape and meaning, the object aspect is emphasized as well. Wang writes:

  • 35 Wang 1993: 61. The English translation is modified by the author.

Although painting is the representation of shape, the emphasis is on the expression of meaning. If the meaning is insufficient, one may say that a painting is not even representational. Nevertheless, meaning exists in form; if one discards the shape, where can one find the meaning? Thus, one who realizes the shape has a painting in which the shape is filled with meaning. What kind of representation is possible if one loses the shape of things?35

37The subject and object aspect of meaning cannot be separated in Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of xieyi. According to Benjamin, there is an antinomy between literature and painting, thought and image. However, Chinese painting seems to find a resolution to this antinomy. By means of xieyi, “painting of ideas (peinture d’idée),” Chinese painter “signifies thinking by way of resemblance” and finds the “image-thought (image-pensée).” There is not a resemblance but a multitude of resemblances that are always in motion and change.

  • 36 Benjamin 2018: 190.

38These virtual resemblances, which are expressed through each paintbrush stroke, form a mirror in which thought is reflected in this atmosphere of resemblance or resonance. In fact, these resemblances are not mutually exclusive; they become entangled and constitute a whole that necessitates thought, just like the breeze necessitates a veil of gauze.36

39Although Benjamin’s writing is a little obscure and the mechanism of xieyi (writing meaning) is not clarified, we are persuaded by him to believe that the un-exhibited meaning is somehow exhibited as image thought the fleeting writing. The aesthetic merits of calligraphic line are not only derived from its expression of “the temperamental and subjective aspect of the idea” as Fry indicates, but also from the multitude of resemblances through which the internal meaning of painted objects is exhibited.

40Painting, and by extension every form of art, is the cooperation of body and mind. Therefore, the working of art cannot be split into physical labor and mental labor. On the contrary, it is through art that the otherwise divided types of labor can be united again. Chinese aestheticians appreciate the xieyi painting because it can bring both body and mind into play.

Torna su


Benjamin, W. 2018, Chinese Paintings at the National Library; En. trans. by Briankle G. Chang, “Position: East Asia Cultures Critique”, 26, 1: 185-192.

Cogan, J. 2006, The Phenomenological Reduction, in J. Fieser, B. Dowden (eds), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

Collingwood, R. 1958, The Principles of Art, London, Oxford University Press.

Danto, A. 1964, The Artworld, “The Journal of Philosophy”, 61, 19: 571-584.

Danto, A. 1988, The End of Art, “History and Theory”, 37, 4: 127-143.

Dufrenne 1973, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, trans. by E.S. Casey, A.A. Anderson, W. Domingo, L. Jacobson, Evanston, Northwestern University Press.

Dufrenne 1987, In the Presence of the Sensuous: Essays in Aesthetics, ed. and trans. by M. Roberts, D. Gallagher, Atlantic Highlands, Humanities Press International.

Goodman, N. 1968, Languages of Art, Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill.

Fry, R. 1919, Line as a Means of Expression in Modern Art, “The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs”, 34, 191: 62-69.

Jullien, F. 2009, The Great Image Has No Form, trans. by J. Todd, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.

Kristeller, P. 1951, The Modern System of the Arts, “Journal of the History of Ideas”, 12, 4: 496-527.

Lewitt S. 1967, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, “Artforum”, 5, 10: 79-83.

Pang, P. 1995, Trifurcation, Shenzhen, Haitian Press.

Polanyi, M. 1970, What Is a Painting, “The American Scholar”, 39, 4: 655-669.

Qi, B-SH. 1996, On Painting, ed. by ZH-D. Wang, T-M. Li, Zhengzhou: Henan Meishu Press.

Rosenberg, H. 1952, The American Action Painters, “Art News”, 51, 8: 22-23, 48-50.

Schellekens, E. 2017, Conceptual Art, in E. Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

Shen, z.-Q. 1967, Recordings of Jiezhou’s Learning Painting, in Y-T. Lin, The Chinese Theory of Art, New York, G.P. Putnam’s Sons: 159-211.

Thomasson, A. 2004, The Ontology of Art, in P. Kivy (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics, Oxford, Blackwell: 78-92.

Wang, L. 1993, Preface to the Second Version of the Mt. Hua Paintings, in Kathlyn Maurean Liscomb, Learning from Mount Hua, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 61-62.

Wollheim, R. 1980, Art and Its Object, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Zheng, X. 1986, Ban Qiao’s Remarks of Painting Orchid and Bamboo), in J-H. Yu (ed.), Selected Essays on Chinese Painting, Beijing: People’s Fine Art Publishing House, 2nd ed., vol. 2: 1173-1178.

Zhu, Y-M. 1986, Zhishan Remarks of Painting Flowers and Fruits, in J-H. Yu (ed.), Selected Essays on Chinese Painting, Beijing, People’s Fine Art Publishing House, 2nd ed., vol. 2: 1072.

Torna su


1 Thomasson 2004: 78.

2 Thomasson 2004: 89.

3 Pang 1995: 230.

4 Jullien 2009: 227.

5 Jullien 2009: 228.

6 Pang 1995: 231.

7 Pang 1995: 235.

8 Jullien 2009: 4.

9 Jullien 2009: 1-2.

10 Goodman 1968: 5.

11 Qi 1996: 70.

12 Wollheim 1980: 142.

13 Polanyi 1970: 655-669.

14 Kristeller 1952: 507-508.

15 Collingwood 1958: 130.

16 Collingwood 1958: 305.

17 LeWitt 1967: 80.

18 Danto 1964: 580.

19 Danto 1988: 134.

20 Danto 1964: 579.

21 Schellekens 2017:

22 Rosenberg 1952: 22.

23 Rosenberg 1952: 22.

24 Rosenberg 1952: 23.

25 Rosenberg 1952: 49.

26 Dufrenne 1987: 148.

27 Dufrenne (1953) tr en. 1973: 48.

28 Dufrenne 1987:144.

29 Dufrenne 1987:145.

30 Cogan 2006:

31 Zheng 1986: 1173.

32 Shen 1967: 163. The English translation is modified by the author.

33 Zhu 1985: 1072.

34 Fry 1919: 62.

35 Wang 1993: 61. The English translation is modified by the author.

36 Benjamin 2018: 190.

Torna su

Per citare questo articolo

Notizia bibliografica

Peng Feng, «On Works and Workings of Art: A Perspective from Comparative Aesthetics»Rivista di estetica, 79 | 2022, 74-87.

Notizia bibliografica digitale

Peng Feng, «On Works and Workings of Art: A Perspective from Comparative Aesthetics»Rivista di estetica [Online], 79 | 2022, online dal 01 février 2024, consultato il 23 juin 2024. URL:; DOI:

Torna su


Peng Feng

Articoli dello stesso autore

Torna su

Diritti d’autore


Solamente il testo è utilizzabile con licenza CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Salvo diversa indicazione, per tutti agli altri elementi (illustrazioni, allegati importati) la copia non è autorizzata ("Tutti i diritti riservati").

Torna su
Cerca su OpenEdition Search

Sarai reindirizzato su OpenEdition Search