Quotation by Etienne Gilson

It is just as wrong to judge paintings from the point of view of pictures as it is to judge pictures from the point of view of painting. A painting has its own rule, its own justification within itself. A picture has its criterion outside itself, in the external reality it imitates. Several critics have recently made the remark that nonrepresentational art has this major defect, that being unrelated to external reality, it has no criterion by which it can be judged. The argument would be valid if the art of painting were the art of picturing. As it is, all judgments and appreciations of paintings founded upon their relation to an external model are irrelevant to painting. A painting is the embodiment of a form in a matter; the whole being of a picture is determined by the relationship that obtains between the image itself and some external reality.... As compared with a painting, whose ultimate end is to achieve a fitting object of contemplation, images are characterized by their ambition to represent all the objects they include, and to represent these objects with all the details that are compatible with their pictorial representation.
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