Works of art that prove enduring are intensely humanistic


Painting can still do what the best traditional painting has always done: evoke, with telling emotion and exquisite precision, “the ancient hereditary ground” of “the human esthetic,” to use Wilson’s words. But the lesson of modernist painting is that it must enlist the medium in the service of the human esthetic if it is to continue to do so convincingly.

“Human nature exists, and it is both deep and highly structured” — “evidence accumulated to date leaves little room for doubt,” Wilson, the founder of sociobiology, reminds us. But the traditional means of emotional “transmission of [its] intricate details” — the “universals or near-universals [that] emerged in the evolution of culture,” and that reflect the “archetypes” or “inherited regularities of mental development that compose human nature” — no longer “communicate feeling” convincingly in the modern world.

more from artnet here.