First Blog Post for Art 260

For this first blog post, I would like to turn our attention to Agathon, a 5th century Greek/Athenian tragic poet/philosopher whose work, unfortunately, has been lost through the passage of time.  However, we are fortunate that the famed Greek writer/philosopher Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics publication that does survive, shares with us a small record of Agathon’s thoughts.  Aristotle quotes Agathon in the following passage:  “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art.”

At the start of our class, as we turn our collective gazes back toward our ancestor’s distant past, what are your thoughts on the loss of historic records through events of time and do you agree or disagree with the passage listed above from Agathon about chance and art?

This painting by Anselm Feuerbach re-imagines a scene from Plato‘s Symposium, in which the tragedian Agathon welcomes the drunken Alcibiades into his home. 1869.

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

19 Comments

19 thoughts on “First Blog Post for Art 260”

  1. I certainly do agree with Agathon’s statement. One reason being that the art we find in museums and cities only still exist because of luck. The art that we still see today are the “survivors.” It is only by circumstance that these objects have been preserved. There are countless many artists who have faded into obscurity along with their respective projects, never to be seen or heard from again. Of course, this does not mean that the artists are/were not relevant or important. It simply means that events have happened that caused these artistic expressions to be suppressed from history. Funnily enough, this is exactly what happened to Agathon. His ideas have been mostly lost through time. It is certainly tragic that there are gaps in our history, but it does make modern academia a bit more interesting as people find indirect ways to fill in these gaps.
    Another reason why Agathon’s statement seems to hold true is because art itself is birthed from chance. There is no predictability in art; ideas ebb and flow in an almost stochastic manner. We’ve talked briefly in class about epiphanies and their role in an artist’s life. Epiphanies do not happen whenever a person chooses them to happen. They are sudden, unexpected realizations of truth. There is no way to determine when an epiphany can happen. Thus, the mere existence of an artistic piece depends on chance.

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  2. “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art,” as Agathon put it, is a message that relates with artists. In the broader scheme of things my interpretation of this places attention toward the experience, both perceptually and sensually. It is agreeable in terms of my standards, though art has been lost and uncovered through time, I would like to tie these events with the quote itself. If it were by chance that is, art can be appreciative for those moments because an art takes the form of many objects and functions just as the passage of time manifests the creation of art, entirely for the purpose of one’s experience, or through the expressive nature from ancestors of our time.

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  3. In a sense it is challenging to have an opinion on someone/ someone’s art due to me not being able to assess his pieces. I feel that an artists work is a way into their soul. It saddens me so to know that his work has been lost. If his words had enough power to resinate with Aristotle then it does make me believe that he was an extremely insightful artist. I can understand how he believed art to be related to chance. After all, it simply takes one person to view you art and be moved by it. That person could then have a discussion with a loved one and strike that individuals curiosity about the piece. This is all up to chance. You cannot say with absolute certainty that the world will love and relate to your art.

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  4. I strongly believe that prehistoric art is definitely being lost through the events of time. Whether it is being misinterpreted through translation or being buried under multiple layers of rock, historic records are most likely become altered one way or the other. Thus, losing its originality. According to the Agathon’s passage, I initially had trouble understanding the quote, however, after some researching, I stumbled across another quote, “Chance must be recognized as a new stimulus to artistic creation,” Dada stated in one of her blogs. Realizing that arts do happen through chances and epiphany moments. I personally think those are the best kind of art.

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  5. Whilst it is unfortunate that the passage of time often results in the loss of important knowledge and thinking of our ancestors, there is also something quite comforting about this to me. Agathon was a well-known Greek philosopher in his time but now only fragments of his thinking survive. This reminds me that we are all mere blips in the vast history and mass of the universe. Even great Greek philosophers get lost in the mists of time. This helps me to remain in the present moment – shrinking the importance of any issues I may face. It reminds me that I should not be concerned about my “legacy” but to focus my energy on the people I interact with in the here and now. With regards to Agathon’s quote about art and chance, this peaks my interest and makes me reflect on what art is in a new light. This quote reminded me of the British artist Jane Perkins, who uses found objects to replicate famous paintings. Chance plays a role in these creations as it is chance that determines the size/type/shape/color of the items used. For me, Perkins’ work is a great example of the artistic outcome of the mutual love of art and chance.

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  6. Since day one in class I have been thinking about this post, and the concept that art is chance and chance is art and trying to think about the connection other than the obvious then it came to me that the obvious to me is the most important. The idea that art is chance is something that I know all to well with me being an artist, art is all about taking chances in your respective medium. As many of my art teachers have stated before art work is about making a series of good decisions, but my question is how do we know its a good decision until we make it? The truth is we have no idea so we take our chances.
    Similar to that argument is the chance that once a piece is finished is it going to reach the demographic or people the way you intend it to? This is a roll of the dice when creating fine art pieces and placing them in galleries.

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  7. Love is connected with art but I disagree that art is connected with chance. I think art has nothing to do with chance. Art is about talent and technique, and art is about how artists express their emotions. Plato’s Symposium
    shows different emotions and feelings. Some characters in the painting seem to enjoy the scene, while others just seem to be present but indifferent. Also, some characters show their half naked bodies in a beautiful poses.

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  8. I agree with the passage listed above from Agathon about the chance of art and how art is in love with the chance. Many historical arts figures and painting didn’t have the chance to survive for a long period of time because the place that might hold the historical figures and painting could get replaced by some other item or people might just forget about the art work. I believe the “chance” in the quote is luck when some of the art pieces survive for a long period of time and let the people see the work of art and appreciate the moment. A lot of important art work might get lost or be erased from the people minds but some of the art works are lucky enough to be in a lot of different art galleries as of today and we are lucky enough to see some of the greatest art pieces of all time.

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  9. Preservation of historic records is very important to me. I believe that sometimes, to be able to see clearly in the present and maybe even into the future, we can learn by looking back into our past. Agathon’s passage about art and chance is very true. As we’ve learned that present humans, just like our ancestors, grab hold of the chance to create whatever they so desire. And with that creation, whether it’s a painting, drawing, or a piece of object, a bridge is built that connects us to their world which in a way, defies the passage of time. The relationship between art and chance is interchangeable. It is a hard concept to wrap my mind around when exactly either one begins or take form. Chance is just an occurrence that is existing through time that is ahead of us; waiting to be taken by an event that we create. And art simply exists alongside chance in every way and form. Our ancestors took a chance to record what they see and experience and now those creations function as a window from our time to theirs.

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  10. Due to the passage of time causing pieces of art to be lost, I believe that it emphasizes the importance of appreciating works of art while they exist. While prehistoric pieces were lost because the people that made them at the time did not think of the future, we can now learn from their mistakes to preserve works that are currently being made so we can enjoy them for longer. It is sad that there are works that will be lost forever, but the fact that time will pass and eventually all work will someday meet it’s end makes it all the more valuable. Maybe if nothing was lost and all works were kept forever, we would never learn to appreciate anything.

    In regards to Agathon and art, I do agree that chance is in love with art and vice versa. Ultimately, art captures specific moments in time. Whether those moments are specific battles, people, or emotions, they were all chance happenings that just so happened to stick out to an artist (or even possible commissioner) to want to be captured in art form and kept as a record. If we could predict and remember everything, why bother to ever record it?

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  11. It’s Tragic that through the events of time records have been lost, losing the originality of our ancestors. “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art.” – Agathon, I agree with what Agathon was stating that, while working with art you can’t hold yourself back from your creative thoughts but by taking chances you can create a masterpiece.

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  12. Nowadays, we are lucky to have so many works of art to enjoy, analyze and even to revere. It is very unfortunate to lose records; some of which have been lost in very recent times. To me, it seems that record keeping is always at the mercy of mankind primarily and nature secondarily. A tenuous balancing act that very much continues on today. I do agree with Agathon’s statement. Artists of any medium or field are the ones who take chances and as such, inspiration can come from any encounter/experience or even dreams.

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  13. Whenever I come across something by chance I feel like that that object becomes much more valuable. Sometimes it may not even be an object it may just be an idea, but it is the experience of chance that makes the overall experience more tangible. I believe art is enhanced by the aspects of chance, an artist may incorporate something into their work that they came across by chance and I believe this lets the artist, and the audience, feel a stronger connection to the work. Let’s say we stumble across an old piece of art no one has ever found before, initially it is possible for us to not understand what we have come across but that can make the interaction feel more surreal and give the experience more depth. I believe the loss of historic records through time has made the art we find even more valuable that it already is. Not only does it increase our lens for the comprehension of the ideas of that particular time period, but it also shows us to appreciate these experiences when they occur.

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  14. I agree with Agathon’s statement: “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art.” In human terms, we recognize two people are in love when they have a genuine interest in each other. They do their utmost best to be their best for their partner while improving themselves as a couple. This is exactly the feeling that Agathon references when he speaks of art and chance. Also, the love of art and chance is not one sided. Art loves chance and chance loves art. Art is a creative subject, and with creativity there comes those a-ha moments. Those a-ha moments are those changes that make art so unique, valuable, and interesting. Art and chance intermingle with each other to create a piece that awes the audience. Another interpretation could be talking about art through the centuries. Through the passage of time, we have lost much works of art that dignify certain time periods. By Agathon’s quote, he references how that piece of art made during that exact moment of time was given a chance to be created and to be experienced. Although it is unfortunate that we can not share the same experiences as our ancestors, chance allows us to recreate art of the ages and experience it again in the new light.

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  15. While it is true that the loss of historic records and art that has happened over time is considered by many to be an unfortunate event, I still believe that there is some good that has come from their loss. The way I see it, even though portions of these historical records and art have been lost to due to one reason or another, what is left is substantial enough to intrigue and compels us to search out the missing information. The argument can be made that the most profound and influential lessons are learned during the process of exploration. I cannot say that I believe interest and wonder we as a civilization have for historic records and art would still be as enthusiastic as it is now, if we would have been able to get all the information at once. There is something to be said about the excitement that is ignited when we are presented with the opportunity for discovery.
    Which in a way relates well to what Aristotle was suggesting when he quoted Agathon saying “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art”. I think that art is not just about a physical or tangible product of creativity, but it’s also about the thought, talent, inspiration, and emotion that goes into the making of the piece. With that being said, it makes sense that the artistic sprit that lives within us would be in love with chance. The chance to be inspired, the chance to be influential and memorable. Which in turn makes chance in love with art. Events, discoveries, or everyday encounters that happen by chance are in love with possibility that something artistic and beautiful can come from them.

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  16. Part of the beauty of life is its ability to pass in the blink of an eye; If we are not present in the moments we may just miss something special. And yes, it can be considered unfortunate that we miss things, but it— in a sense makes it even more remarkable for those who did take the time or got the chance to. Regarding art, we not only seek it to relish in its beauty or meaning, but also to create a sense of understanding of our history. Art is in fact in love with chance in that the final product may have no derivative of the artist original concept; this is also true in that what we eventually label a work of art may have had no intention of being “art” at all, however, chance made it so.

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  17. “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art.”

    At the start of our class, as we turn our collective gazes back toward our ancestor’s distant past, what are your thoughts on the loss of historic records through events of time and do you agree or disagree with the passage listed above from Agathon about chance and art?

    It deeply saddens me that art and history has been lost throughout time due to natural causes, it’s even more upsetting when humans purposely destroy or deface art with historical significance. It’s not like we can simply press undo and get back what we lost in this age of technology, those artifacts are gone forever. But there is some art that is meant to be temporary, and impermanent (street art/performance art/installations). That is why the quote by Agathon rings true, there is beauty and romance in something that cannot last.

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  18. Art has always been in danger, through out the thousands of years humans have been on Earth. From our early ancestors that had to worry about whether or not their art and paintings would even exist many thousands of years later. Art has always been in danger of being destroyed, whether because it is considered ugly, or it is considered blasphemy. One has to look even in modern times that art is always in danger and being lucky. Societies and cultures while being open at first can change and go against art in an instant. We in modern times are fortunate art from thousands of years ago has survived, and hopefully it can survive for another many more years.

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  19. Agathon once said that “Art is in love with chance, and chance with art,” and I believe that is true. I think that art is created through chance. You don’t go in thinking that you are going to create something beautiful. I think you go in creating what you are feeling, thinking, or capturing. Chance takes things a step further and makes something out of you feeling. They blend together and in the end create this wonderful combination. The chance of people relating, people loving, people feeling, etc. The art speaking to people or not. Everything is a chance. Everything has the opportunity of happening or not happening. Life creates art that happens haphazardly.

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