Saturday, January 10, 2015

Aesthetic Realism and the Relation of Art and Life

For the last 13 years, Donita Ellison, sculptor and Aesthetic Realism Associate and I have been giving presentations to teachers on the relation of Art and Science through the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method.  We have loved talking to art educators throughout the country about this principle by Eli Siegel: "All beauty is a making one of opposites and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."  We have related, for example, the beauty to be found in the Color Wheel and the Periodic Table of Elements; the way separation and junction are present in the way a coil pot is made and the structure of the human heart; and how near and far are mightily one in linear perspective and the way are eyes make a one of these same opposites as we look at the world.  This has been a wonderful journey for us, learning from each other about how to see beauty in our respective subjects and relating the opposites in art and science to the opposites every person is yearning to put together in his or her own turbulent life.

I am proud to post this great talk by Dorothy Koppelman, Aesthetic Realism Consultant, painter, teacher of "The Critical Inquiry Class," and authority in the field of art criticism.   Mrs. Koppeleman began her studying of Aesthetic Realism in classes with Eli Siegel in the 1940's and her knowledge of art is deep and vast.  A beautiful instance is: "Light and Dark, Hiding and Showing in Joseph Mallord William Turner, which you can read here:  You're in for a wonderful experience. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Aesthetic Realism and Learning: A Lecture by Eli Siegel

I love this 1950 lecture by Eli Siegel very much.  What he says about learning is as timely as ever.  He defines learning as: "the getting into oneself of the world, with as much variety, as much order, and as much respect as possible."  According to Aesthetic Realism, which I have studied and used as the basis of my teaching since the early 1970's, every subject stands for the world.  As we learn mathematics, history, science,  or read a book about Lewis and Clark's explorations, we are getting into our minds knowledge about the world different from ourselves.  This is our deepest, most fundamental desire--to like the world through knowing it and it is the purpose of all education!   There is also that in us that would like to think less of the outside world, including people, to trivialize and dismiss the meaning of what is different from ourselves.  The desire to make less of the world is contempt, defined by Eli Siegel as: "the addition to self through the lessening of what is not oneself."  This, I have learned, is the greatest opposition to learning and the cause of our not liking ourselves--not having the feeling about the world that we hope so much to have.

In her important commentary to "Aesthetic Realism and Learning," Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss writes: "In this lecture, Mr. Siegel speaks, greatly, on the relation of knowing and feeling and the kind of feeling people are looking for.  Aesthetic Realism is education in how to know the world and ourselves rightly so we can feel rightly."  I know this to be true with my own grateful life and through the lives of thousands of students I taught in New York City public high schools over 30 years of using the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method.  You can read the entire lecture here: