A Theory of Art

I am currently reading (or trying to read) “A Theory of Art” by Stephen David Ross.  Ross is a philosopher, and has written about a number of topics, including aesthetics, morality, science, and culture.  This book focuses exclusively on Ross’s theory of contrast.  Ross argues that all other theories and artistic movements are incomplete.  Contrast is what he measures, weighs, and validates art by.  I would take this to be a given, but he creates a very phenomenological picture, which I find interesting.  The contrasts in art, for Ross, have degrees of complexity that can be read as layers within a work itself but also include history, knowledge, environment, etc.  Ross argues for knowledge, and for the discussions art evokes.

“If artistic value is intensity of contrast, what is important is how the contrasts function and gain intensity.  The capacity of contrasts to promote higher levels and richer complexities  is the primary feature of our understanding of art….” (Ross,11)

“A Theory of Art” was published by the State University of New York in 1982

Stephen David Ross, born in 1935, is currently a Professor of Philosophy at Binghamton University in New York.