Analysis Of Feeling And Form By Suzanne Langer

Decent Essays
In this essay I will address what Suzanne Langer has to say about the measure of ideas, the symbol of feeling, and semblance. She claims that aesthetic experiences are ones that satisfy our primitive needs. We can find her discussion of the topic in chapter 3 of her book Feeling and Form.

The first part of the book I’d like to focus on is chapter 3, or the symbol of feeling. Suzanne starts off by saying: “... ‘expression of the idea’ is ‘expression’ in still a different sense and, indeed, a radically different one. In all the contexts mentioned above, the artwork functioned as a sign. (Langer Pg. 26)” What Langer is trying to say, is that artwork is not meant to be used as a sign. As in sign we mean, something that pointed to fact, or what
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She says: “All articulation is difficult, exacting, and ingenious; the making of a symbol requires craftsmanship as truly as the making of a convenient bowl or an efficient paddle… (Langer Pg. 39)” What she is trying to say from that passage is that everything we create is difficult to make, taking effort to do so. Do you not feel some sort of pleasure after creating said bowl? This is what Langer describes as an aesthetic experience. Aesthetic experiences are ones that serve some purpose in our animal, or primitive needs. Take the bowl for example, it serves our need to save water for drinking and surviving. Even if the methods have evolved, it still serves that purpose it was originally sought out to do, therefore we derive pleasure from it. This where she adds on soon after: “Therefore the normal evolution of art is in close association with practical skills-building, ceramics, weaving, carving, and magical practices of which the average civilized person no longer knows the importance… (langer Pg. 39-40)” Without the average civilized person knowing and practicing skills they lose the sensitivity to appreciate these skills, Langer says. This is the reason for museums and separate societies for the arts, average civilized people have lost this ability to derive pleasure from it because they are so withdrawn from it. We must be able to recognize the amount of effort and …show more content…
She say: “The fundamental forms which occur in the decorative arts of all ages and races - for instance the circle, the triangle, the spiral, the parallel - are known as motifs of design. They are not art “works”.... but they lend themselves to composition. (Langer Pg. 69)” Langer says that these motifs in a way help the artist or craftsmen start to create. It is as if giving them something to build off of, or in a better sense, help kick start their imagination. Take a simple drawing of a car. This simple car has two circles, with a rectangle on top of them to suggest that it is in fact a car. This hint is used to guide the artist or craftsmen in the direction used to create their craft. Once they start to add effects and other motifs the artwork is in an essence born again into a new creation. Now instead of two circles and a rectangle we have an illusion of that before said object. Langer goes on to explain the flower and how the basic shape is used throughout history in all sorts of crafts. She explains that the basic motif of the flower is still there, it is just the new effects and additional motifs that give the object a new illusion. Langer argues that all forms of art use this technique, they are all the same original motif. This motif however has been transformed, or abstracted to make it into a symbol. This again is the difference

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