Over Eternal Peace (1894)
For this exercise I chose a landscape, oil on canvas, artwork by Isaac Levitan, Over Eternal Peace. Isaac Levitan traveled to Europe for the first time in late 1889 to familiarize himself with Western fine art, particularly its contemporary tendencies. This artist produced many works related to Italy between 1889 and 1990, from which the exhibited pieces are arguably the most bright and joyful. Therefore, I wanted to argue this truth towards this piece and how this relates with Kant’s argument in the judgment of the beautiful.
The critique I picked for this piece was labeled as follows: Isaac Levitan, the Russian Master by Colin Fell in Cornwall. Colin is arguing this as an exemplary work of art. My take of the heart of his critique is he is telling the story in which the artist meant to divulge while and after he painted this piece. The message of the story is beautiful and really ought to be interpreted one way. Before you make your way on voyage through the bright waters and towards the seeping bright grey skies above, the viewers eyes walk through “a graveyard signaling its eschatological metaphysic” and find a church before the waters (Fell).
I choose to concentrate on Moment 1 in Kant’s theory because as Kant says this moment of Quality in the judgement of taste argues that “the satisfaction characterizing a judgment of beauty in taste is entirely Disinterested” (Kant). “Taste is the faculty of judging of an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction” (286). A subject could then free themselves from their interests and desires of gratification. The beautiful is found because everything else has departed from your realm of thoughts and perception, and your focus has come into a pure state to become interested in the art. As with this piece a clean slate is of essence and when you have done so, your references to what everyone and you have been conditioned to feel, or through personal experiences, will be casted away to ensure for a blank slate. Therefore, a new way of thinking has captured your attention and has set you free.
A counterargument would state that this piece of artwork only offers grievances and should be respected with the feelings and knowledge of sorrow and silence. On the contrary, Instead of thinking these are solemn clouds, heavy dark bushes, a gloomy chapel and frightening headstones, this is a joyful scene and should be depict this way only because death is beautiful. Therefore, feeling and knowing this will set you completely free. Free from sadness and despair. Death begins a bright new future into a new life such as heaven. This shouldn’t satisfy how you want to feel or believe you should feel, such as sad or depressed. No, instead you ought to feel hope and excitement by imagining how truly beautiful this mention of death is. The dead no longer live in time and their next conscious thought will be brighter than ever before.