The ancient Greeks, Plato and Aristotle had very different views on art. Plato believed that art should serve a higher purpose by promoting the values of an ideal human society. He thought that the physical world was simply an illusion made up of representations of ideal forms, and that when an artist creates a rendering of a physical form he/she is creating something even further removed from the reality it depicts. Aristotle on the other hand, believed that art has value and that there are no ideal forms; there is only the reality of the physical world. He thought that art should not only be imitations of the physical world but should also somehow be better, aesthetically, than the actual object itself. He placed a high value on knowledge and acknowledged art as a way to convey it.
I think that Plato would have had an adverse reaction to Jeff Koons’s body of work because it doesn’t convey any sort of message about developing good moral values or an ideal society. The idea that art should promote certain values was very important to Plato and since Koons’s work is very emotionally manipulative and doesn’t convey any specific message to better enhance society he would most likely disagree with its merits. Aristotle, being more sympathetic toward art than Plato, would say that Koons’s work allows the viewer to live vicariously, most notably through his “Made in Heaven” series, thus giving it merit in that it allows a safe release of harmful urges outside of the physical world.
I believe that Plato would have had a better affinity toward the work of Alexis Rockman due to the accuracy of his work, resulting from an in-depth study of the subject matter. Plato would give him merit in his message to build a better future for society by learning from what the future is projected to be now. Both Plato and Rockman want to instill good moral values through art, and I believe that Rockman does this by upfront showing what the effects our actions will have on the foreseeable future thus influencing us to change our habits.
Aristotle would also have more of an affinity toward the work of Alexis Rockman because of its realistic portrayal of past, present, and perceived future. Aristotle believed that “beauty is based on knowledge first” (Barrett 24), meaning he would greatly appreciate the time taken to research subject matter for accuracy.
Barrett, Terry. “Chapter 2 Realism: Art Is Realistic, Truthful, and Beautiful.” Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012, pp. 19–61.