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Aesthetic and Artistic Evaluation, Part 1

Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Publication Date
  • Bh Aesthetics
  • Design
  • Musicology
  • Philosophy


In this important article, first published in 1917, the Czech aesthetician, musicologist, and composer Otakar Zich (1879–1934) distinguishes between two kinds of evaluation of a work of art: aesthetic evaluation and artistic evaluation. He bases this differentiation on two possible attitudes that a perceiver may have towards a work of art. The first originates solely in the perceiver’s experience of the work and his or her search for a feeling of pleasure. It reflects only the subjective preferences of the individual; Zich terms the corresponding value ‘relative aesthetic value’. Above the relative value of an emotional effect there is an evaluation of a higher order, which consists in ‘comprehending’ a work of art. It is to this evaluation that artistic value corresponds. According to Zich, however, this objective value is grounded not in the work itself, but in the distinctive ‘personal value’ of the artist. In artistic evaluation, the work of art is therefore evaluated as a manifestation of strong artistic individuality.

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