The Spectator in the Picture

In Rob van Gerwen (ed.), Richard Wollheim on the Art of Painting: Art as Representation and Expression. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 215-231 (2001)
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This paper considers whether pictures ever implicitly represent internal spectators of the scenes they depict, and what theoretical construal to offer of their doing so. Richard Wollheim's discussion (Painting as an Art, ch.3) is taken as the most sophisticated attempt to answer these questions. I argue that Wollheim does not provide convincing argument for his claim that some pictures implicitly represent an internal spectator with whom the viewer of the picture is to imaginatively identify. instead, I defend a view on which the external spectator simply imagines herself interacting, psychologically and otherwise, with the depicted scene. I explore some of the consequences of the two positions for pictorial aesthetics, arguing that the view I favour is at least as competent as Wollheim's at accommodating those phenomena we have any reason to think hold.

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Robert Hopkins
New York University


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