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Roger Fry’s ‘Difficult and Uncertain Science’

The Interpretation of Aesthetic Perception

Series:

Adrianne Rubin

This new study traces the development and evolution of the writings of Roger Fry (1866-1934), a highly influential art critic who introduced modern French painting to Britain in the early twentieth century. Through close analysis of his writings, the author examines the role that emerging psychological theories played in the formulation and expression of Fry’s aesthetic theories. She also discusses aspects of physiological psychology, Gestalt theory, psychoanalysis and adaptive psychology, arguing that detailed analyses of aesthetic perception comprise the core of Fry’s writings. Though he has rarely been credited with this goal, this volume shows that Fry sought to make art accessible to a wide audience and that highlighting the universal aspects of aesthetic perception was a means to this end.
The book offers a chronological study of select essays and lectures, both published and unpublished, written by Roger Fry between the 1890s and his death in 1934. Where relevant his writings are juxtaposed with those of other art critics and theorists to identify factors that shaped his thinking and his use of terminology and to clarify the critical context in which he was working. Since Fry’s work as a visual artist ran alongside his critical thinking, some attention is given to his paintings as a method of illustrating his practical experimentation with aesthetic principles, particularly formalist concepts.

BIC Classifications

  • The arts (A)
    • The arts: general issues (AB)
    • History of art / art & design styles (AC)
      • History of art & design styles: c 1800 to c 1900 (ACV)
  • Humanities (H)
    • Philosophy (HP)
  • Society & social sciences (J)
    • Psychology (JM)
      • Cognition & cognitive psychology (JMR)
        • Perception (JMRP)

BISAC Classifications

  • Art (ART)
    • ART / General (ART000000)
    • ART / History / General (ART015000)
  • Philosophy (PHI)
    • PHILOSOPHY / General (PHI000000)
  • Psychology (PSY)
    • PSYCHOLOGY / General (PSY000000)

THEMA Classifications

  • The Arts (A)
    • The arts: general issues (AB)
      • Theory of art (ABA)
    • Fine arts: treatments & subjects (AG)
      • History of art (AGA)
  • Society & Social Sciences (J)
    • Psychology (JM)
      • Cognition & cognitive psychology (JMR)
  • Philosophy & Religion (Q)
    • Philosophy (QD)
      • Topics in philosophy (QDT)
        • Philosophy: aesthetics (QDTN)
  • Children’s, Teenage & Educational (Y)
    • Educational material (YP)
      • Educational: Arts, general (YPA)
  • Time period qualifiers (3)
    • c 1500 onwards to present day (3M)
      • 19th century, c 1800 to c 1899 (3MN)
      • 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999 (3MP)
      • 21st century, c 2000 to c 2100 (3MR)
  • Style qualifiers (6)
    • Styles (A) (6A)
      • Arts & Crafts style (6AF)