Art and Aesthetics in Action
Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn



The following sculptures are figures that I shaped with clay -- except for the smoking pipe carved from a block of wood and the head of Buddha shaped from a tree stump. I discuss each piece briefly, and offer an interpretation. My interpretation is only what occurred to me in the moment, only a fleeting thought. Each piece means something different each moment.

This commentary continues my review of aesthetics and its role in society.

On Aesthetics

Critics say that the British sculptor Henry Moore expressed “density” in his work like Shakespeare expressed it in his eloquent writing. “Density” for Moore refers to a work of art that is thick with meaning, which draws forth a wide range of associations.

Brian McAvera says that Moore’s sculptures carry that “dense web of associated images with many resonances.” He declares that a “good sculpture” provides a “surface interest,” but a “great sculpture” penetrates surfaces to explore the meaning of “Life.”

Since Plato’s time, philosophers have said that universal shapes exist. Such universal shapes reside somewhere in the unconscious, perhaps conditioning the work of everyone.

Art critic Herbert Read said he saw “a buried treasury of universal shapes” in Henry Moore’s sculptures. Then he argues that anyone can respond to these shapes if their “conscious control” does not shut them off.

African Priestess

Black Tom Jefferson

The Owner of a Hacienda

Native American Pipe

Buddha in the Country

The Buddha in the Wood [detail]

Aristophanes and Euripides