Dennis J. Sporre Reality Through the Arts

ISBN 13: 9780130278821

Reality Through the Arts

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9780130278821: Reality Through the Arts

For Introduction to the Humanities and General Humanities courses. This introductory exploration of basic artistic concepts and terms applies them to a skeletal multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural history of artistic styles. It treats all the arts-painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, music, theatre, dance, film, architecture, literature-uniformly, and uses a common outline to reinforce the relationship of terms and concepts to the perceptual process. The text also ties both artistic media and history to the theme of art as a reflection of human reality.

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From the Back Cover:

Designed for those who have limited experience in the arts, the text is divided into two parts: "The Media of the Arts: What Artists Use to Express 'Realty'" and "The Styles of the Arts: How Artists Portray 'Reality.'" Part One examines the media of the arts by defining and explaining important terminology, discussing how works are composed, and suggesting ways in which art effects responses in viewers and listeners. Arranged chronologically, Part Two samples art from a variety of cultures, focusing on style as a reflection of expression and meaning.

Among the new features in this edition are:

  • "Getting Started." Introductions to each of the two main sections of the book to help students understand the material ahead.
  • Chapter Outlines and Important Terms beginning each chapter.
  • "Profiles." A series of feature boxes throughout, introducing an artist of note in fuller biographical detail than is possible in the main text.
  • "Masterworks." Another series of feature boxes, appearing in Part Two, drawing attention to significant works of art, architecture, and literature.
  • This edition also includes specific music illustrations for both the descriptive materials in Part One and the stylistic materials in Part Two. These examples in the music sections are accessible on the correlating compact disc available from Prentice Hall.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PREFACE

The purpose of this book is to teach basic principles and practices of the arts—painting, printmaking, sculpture, music, theatre, dance, literature, and architecture—of Western and other cultures. This text is an introduction to the humanities, and is designed for individuals who have limited experience in the arts. In addition, it attempts to provide the humanities instructor with a helpful textbook for courses that touch upon the arts in an inter- or multidisciplinary manner, and approach the arts from a world viewpoint. In order to meet those ends, I have been selective in the material included. My treatment of definitions and concepts in Part I is cursory: in order to stay within the bounds of practicality and the limited perspective of the intended audience, they are explained in general terms, making it simpler to apply them to the diverse cultural approaches examined in Part II.

This book is, of course, not a self-contained humanities course. It cannot substitute for the classroom teacher, whose responsibility it is to shape and mold a course according to the needs of local curricula, and to assist the student to focus on what is important for the thrust of that particular course. No textbook can be relied upon to answer all the students' questions and include all key points. A good book can only suggest the breadth of what is available. This text should encourage the use of other source materials. The instructor should develop emphases or foci of his or her own choosing by adding lectures, videos, or field trips, and expansion of particular areas raised in the general overview presented here. I have aimed to provide a convenient one-volume outline, with enough flexibility to serve a variety of purposes.

In Part I we examine the media of the arts—painting and architecture, for example, —define and explain important terminology, discuss how works are composed, and suggest ways in which some art effects responses in viewers and listeners. The compendium approach used in Part I seems useful because it allows us to apply its terms and concepts as tools for perceiving, describing, and understanding the arts of the diverse cultures discussed in Part II.

In discussing works of art, I have for the most part kept to description and compositional analysis. By so doing I hope to assist the readers in polishing their skills of technical observation. By avoiding forays into meanings and relationships, I have left room for the instructor to move discussions in whatever direction is deemed appropriate.

As suggested earlier, the choice of what to include and exclude has been more or less arbitrary. This is not a comprehensive history of the arts; nor is it an introduction to aesthetic theory. Even the media discussed in the various chapters vary—for the simple reason that different cultures have left us different kinds of artifacts, some of which are better examples of the culture than others. In organizing each chapter—particularly in Part II—I have let the nature of the material suggest its own internal structure. In all cases I have tried to keep the focus of the discussion on works of art.

Part II is arranged chronologically. Thus, with what I hope is a reasonably simple format, we are able to glimpse the arts from a variety of cultures that were occurring at roughly the same time in history. We must keep in mind, however, that the focus of Part II is style, not history In addition, not every culture has been represented—for example, I have not included Oceania, primarily because consultation with humanities instructors suggested priorities for inclusion. Given practical considerations, such as space and accessibility of illustrations, those priorities became imperative.

This book is based on the belief that art from whatever culture is a view of the universe, of human reality, that is expressed in a particular medium and shared with others. Throughout time humans have struggled to understand the universe, and, though separated by centuries or cultures, our concerns and questions, as reflected in our works of art, are alike. By examining art we can enrich our own understanding of our existence. Therefore, as we proceed through the text, try to go beyond the facts and descriptions presented and seek meanings, if only from an individual perspective. Ask questions about what the artist may have been trying to accomplish, and seek to understand how you relate to these creative expressions in terms of your own perception of human reality

Finally, a work such as this does not spring entirely from the general knowledge or primary source research of its author. Some of it does, because of my long-term and close affiliation with the various arts disciplines. Much is the result of notes accumulated here and there, of travel around the world, and of research specifically directed to this project. In the interest of readability, and in recognition of the generalized purpose of this text, copious footnoting has been avoided. I hope that the method I have chosen for presentation and documentation of others' works meets the needs of both responsibility and practicality. The bibliography gives a comprehensive list of works used.

This fourth edition contains several major additions. First is a series of feature boxes titled "Profile." These appear throughout the text and introduce the reader to artists of note in fuller biographical detail than would normally occur. Second is a series of feature boxes titled "Masterwork." These appear throughout the second half of the text and draw special attention to several significant works of art, architecture, and literature. The third addition is correlation of the music sections with a compact disc available from Prentice Hall. For the first time, we now have specific illustrations of music that apply both to the descriptive materials in the first half of the text and to the historical materials of the second half. Another addition to this edition is a greatly expanded treatment of music and musicians in the history sections. Also, I have increased the number of literature selections and the number of illustrations.

One final note: in 1977, when I wrote Perceiving the Arts (Prentice Hall, 6th edn., 2000), I asked Ellis Grove, my colleague at Penn State University, to prepare a chapter on film. Ten years later that chapter formed the basis for Chapter Five of this book. In twenty years of revisions of these two books, much of Ellis's original work has been altered by additions and editing. Nonetheless, the basics are his, and I am indebted to him, as I am to a score of colleagues whose insights, encouragement, and criticism have, hopefully, made each edition of this book better than its predecessor. I am also deeply indebted to Bud Therien at Prentice Hall, my friend, editor, and publisher for more than twenty years; to Marion Gottlieb for her gentle and pleasant spirit; to the editors and copy-editors at Calmann & King in London; and, most of all, to my wife, Hilda, whose patience, love, and understanding, proofreading, note-taking, and research assistance provided me with a solid foundation from which to generate my own part of the project.

D.J.S.

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