mncyt-deactivated20130929 asked: others, or more vapid, or lacking in a solid concept, but it is still what it is and there is no reason to claim it any less than it is. Even though I personally hate Damien Hurst, he is still creating in whatever sense of the word that he is translating for himself. Traditional art, as seen in prior movements has to move from reality. There is so much more to draw on than that is 'real', and self expression gives the artist room to develop and not just copy down what is seen in front of him

Thanks for your interest. When our writer referred to “depiction” in the post you mentioned, this did not mean “realism”. Indeed, realism as a movement is hardly older than Romanticism. Depiction, as we have discussed in past articles, is a focus on particularity and immediate surface experience. The goal of pre-modern art was not to copy the real world in exacting detail, but rather to create rich surfaces for the viewer to experience. Depiction does not necessarily involve the real, nor even a stable form. To use two examples from the past: look at the bizarre world crafted by Hieronymous Bosch in The Garden of Earthly Delights, or at the incredibly lavish line work that fills the Book of Kells. To move away from the visual, consider Homer’s Odyssey or Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Not one of these works is realistic.

It is possible even to depict a dream or a sensation without veering into self-expression. The idea that this cannot be done comes from the modern conception of self, which also gave rise to the very notion of “self-expression”. It is what Charles Taylor calls the ”buffered self”, the self-as-fortress; the opposite of Heidegger’s being-in-the-world. It is modern representationalism, as opposed to the ancient world’s direct realism. We say that one may depict rather than express a sensation because a sensation is not an isolated, private event. In truth, no such events exist. Whether or not they knew it consciously, recent artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombly produced work that reflects this understanding. Although their paintings do not look much like those of the ancients, they remain focused on immediate surface experience.


  1. stilleatingoranges posted this