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Tolstoy’s Philosophy of Art

Tolstoy approaches art with a very specific and narrow view of what isreal and what is counterfeit in classifying artwork and what makes awork of art good or bad. Tolstoy believes that a work of art can beclassified as “real” if and only if “one man consciously by means ofcertain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has livedthrough, and that others are infected by these feelings and alsoexperience them” (10). He believes that art can only be defined asreal by its ability to make the audience feel what the artist hadintended to convey with his/her artwork. The feelings the artistintends to convey must also be sincere and true feelings based onpersonal experience, expressed to the audience in such a way that theviewer/listener feels as if the artist is merely expressing somethinghe/she feels and has always longed to express. To offset thisdefinition, Tolstoy defines counterfeit art as having “no impressionon anyone” (513). He says that distinguishing real art fromcounterfeit art can be done simply by determining the “infectiousnessof art” (514). Tolstoy claims that any piece of art, no matter howbeautiful, intriguing, interesting, poetic, striking, or realisticcannot be defined as real unless it also maintains this quality ofinfectiousness.

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After defining the difference between real and counterfeit art,Tolstoy goes on to relay the difference between what classifies goodand bad art. Tolstoy cl…

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