Seeking to define art form in its most encompassing essence, Hans-Georg Gadamer invokes the considerable bestowal from many great minds as he explores the motivation for philosophy, literature, music, and visual arts. Gadamer leans heavily on Plato, Kant, Goethe, Hegel, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Bach-to name only a few greats contributing to a work concerned with creative-interpretation, symbology, and interpreter-creativity.
In Foreword, Robert Bernasconi forewarns: ‘This book contains a selection of previously untranslated essays…. The main item in the collection is the lecture series “The Relevance of the Beautiful,” Gadamer’s most sustained work devoted specifically to the question of art.’ And in Editor Introduction: ‘We can find in Kant another route which avoids making either taste or genius the ultimate standpoint. This alternative route is by way of Hegel’s lectures on art, whose proper significance has, Gadamer believes, suffered in consequence of its neo-Kantian interpretation. For it is Hegel whom Gadamer has in mind when he writes here of an art where “humanity encounters itself”…
On ancient claims to truth, Gadamer asserts: “… this ancient and serious problem always arises when a new claim to truth sets itself up against the tradition that continues to express itself through poetic invention or in the language of art.” Truly, the relevance of beauty construes itself on individual perception; and we have to look no further than modern religion to discern the language of art and artful innovation.
As Hans-Georg contemplates Christian art contribution, he draws from Hegelian philosophy claims: “… to have comprehended the truth of the Christian message in conceptual form…. even the deepest mystery of Christian doctrine…. and… has constantly stimulated the course of thought in the West as a challenge and invitation to try and think that which continually transcends the limits of human understanding. In this ambiance was the content of understanding developed through Middle Ages Christian art, Greek and Roman art and literature revival, and the great social transformations and religious changes with which the nineteenth century began. But only a superstitious egocentricity would allow Gadamer’s primitive reserve to state insolvability in the biblical Symbols and Numbers.
Art is described as a “religion of culture” on the one hand and ‘modern artist’ provocation on the other. Gadamer further describes art as an experience; wherein, its spirit enlivens us. The Relevance of the Beautiful is summarized: “The work of art transforms our fleeting experience into the stable and lasting form of an independent and internally coherent creation.”
In The Festive Character Of Theatre, Gadamer compares festival and festive and the community constituted ‘immediacy’ displayed by players and onlookers. Here, at the festival, one “can still act for himself and succeed in rising up and letting what presents itself to him exist in the elevated form that crowns the festive moment.”
Pursuing Composition And Interpretation, we encounter tensions between the artist’s practice and the interpreter. Where: From the artist’s point of view, interpretation appears arbitrary and capricious, if not actually superfluous. And while an artist might ad-lib much of his composition, seeking merely to create a moment pleasing to the eye and flowing into his developed perspective, only the non-artist seeks a hidden meaning in inert expression. For, art plays with a balance of color and objective reference to the form most appealing to artist imagination.