Tolstoy, Art, Emotion and the Audience Argumentative Essay

Argues against Tolstoy's theory of art's emotional communication by citing the work of Banksy, Andy Warhol, Emily Dickinson and the author.
# 150466 | 2,280 words | 1 source | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Feb 19, 2012 in Art (Fine Art) , Philosophy (General)

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This paper explains that Leo Tolstoy, in his manifesto of 1896 "What is Art?", rejected the pre-existing notions of aesthetics by stating his emotional communication theory of art thus impeding twentieth century art by stating that art, like language, properly exists as a system of emotional communication between the artist and his audience. While the idea of art as a system capable of communicating emotion is entirely possible, the author argues that the assumption that an artist creates for an external source is unsound because an artist does not need the audience to define his work as art. The paper contends rather that the conscious artist process, as demonstrated by Emily Dickinson, graffiti artist Banksy, Andy Warhol and the author, defines the liminal, has a private, internal dialogue only with himself not the audience and then makes tangible artwork.

From the Paper:

"For Tolstoy, art is a condition of human life and is first and foremost a means of interaction and communication amongst humanity. Essentially a communal act, Tolstoy's unfettering of art from subjective pleasures places an emphasis upon artistry as an intercourse that allows for the articulation of complex human emotion. The artist is therefore engaged in a direct relationship with his audience in that he experiences a feeling that he then endeavors to articulate through his artwork; if successful, the art conveys and evokes within the audience that same emotion felt by the artist. If, for example, a painter has an overwhelming experience of grief and subsequently distills that feeling of grief within a painting, the spectator should experience the same feeling originally conceived of by the painter through the painting. "A man suffers, expressing his sufferings by groans and spasms, and this suffering transmits itself to other people a man expresses his feeling of admiration, devotion, fear, respect, or love to certain objects, persons, or phenomena, and others are infected by the same feelings of admiration, devotion, fear, respect, or love to the same objects, persons, or phenomena." Only if an emotion experienced by the artist is one in the same as that felt by the audience can a. work of art be considered such."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art?. New York: General Books, 2009.

Cite this Argumentative Essay:

APA Format

Tolstoy, Art, Emotion and the Audience (2012, February 19) Retrieved June 03, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Tolstoy, Art, Emotion and the Audience" 19 February 2012. Web. 03 June. 2023. <>