Process of the Creation of my Salon
My first Vision of the Salon (prospectus):
My Salon will be constructed around the two broad themes of Arts and Aesthetics during the Enlightenment. Although I will consider the changes and evolutions of these two topics in Europe as a whole, I will focus more specifically on France, Britain and Germany. It will be designed for an audience of most likely undergraduate students interested in European History but also Art History and Philosophy.
As a Salonnière, my main goal is to recreate a dialogue between the philosophers and the artists of the Enlightenment. I intend to investigate the interactions between the theories and principles of aesthetics and the pratique of the Arts, how each affected, influenced and reacted to the other: what is the role of theory in artistic creation and vice-versa. The issues at stake will be, for instance, how to establish rules (if rules there must be) that artists can follow in order to create something “beautiful”; how to come up with a universal definition and rationale for what is beautiful; does beauty exist outside of the human mind; who can judge the beauty of an artwork and what is ultimately the role of the artists: should he thrive to represent truth or aim to unveil what we cannot see, or perhaps both? I will also attempt to explore how the artists themselves reacted to the theories and rules of Aesthetics, whether they inspired, followed and/or broke these rules.
First, I will “invite” philosophers and let them explain their respective discourses on Aesthetics, among them, Diderot, Kant, Descartes, Hutcheson, Shaftesbury, Bouhours, Gottlieb, Burke, etc. Second, I will “exhibit” paintings from artists such as Watteau, Fragonard, David, Canaletto, etc. and let the artists explain their process and their aesthetic decisions. Also includedwill be playwrights such as Molière, Lessing, or Racine.
I can thus try to make explicit, for example, the relationship between the Rococo style and the theory of Hedonism, which implies that what is beautiful is what brings pleasure to the audience. I can also examine how neoclassicism and the interest in antiquity, virtue, and nature, showed in works of painters such as Jacques-Louis David or the playwright Racine, reflects a shift in the philosophy of Aesthetics to the idea that the artists must seek to imitate nature and its beauty.