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Looking at Pictures, An Introduction to the Appreciation of Art. By JOHN ARMSTRONG. Duckworth. 1996. pp. 166 + 22 illustrations. 12.99 [pounds sterling].
THIS SHORT book is an introduction to the philosophical problems presented by pictorial art. Its central concern is to say what is worth caring about in such art, that is, to give an account of at least some of the features which make pictures valuable as works of art. Although Armstrong discusses many examples of good painting and drawing, the points he uses them to make are of a highly abstract nature. Thus the reader is offered an `introduction to the appreciation of art' in the form of a theoretical exploration of the sorts of value art can embody, and not, save in passing, an apprenticeship in criticism The focus on philosophy might lead one to expect a difficult read, but the writing is aimed at those with no background in the subject whatsoever. The result is a book which is elegant, imaginative, sensible, and sometimes thought-provoking,
After a preface which attempts to convey something of the nature of philosophy itself, Chapter I introduces the central issue, …