International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 10 Number 21

July 29, 2009

The Sublime and Depictions of Violence in Some Contemporary Artworks

Gearold Johnson
Patrick McKee
Perry Ragouzis
Colorado State University, U.S.A.

Citation: Johnson, G., McKee, P., & Ragouzis, P. (2009). The sublime and depictions of violence in some contemporary artworks. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 10(21). Retrieved [date] from
Images of extreme and ever more graphic violence are a part of contemporary culture. Since students cannot avoid them, such images should be addressed by aesthetic educators. But this will require a theory for the analysis and evaluation of the aesthetic properties of violent imagery. The main thesis of this essay is that depiction of violence in certain recent art works can be understood as aiming at aesthetic perception of the sublime. We develop a model for interpreting works in this way by first presenting and then drawing on Kant's analysis of aesthetic perception of the sublime. Our thesis is important for both aesthetic and moral education. According to Kant's remarkably sensitive analysis, aesthetic perception of the sublime plays a large role in developing moral and social awareness. Using Kant's theory as our main source, and drawing on some recent artworks for illustrative purposes, we offer an analysis of how artistic depiction of violence may promote moral and social awareness. We nevertheless consider images of extreme violence morally problematic, and outline a model for educating reflection on the morality of using them.

Visual Abstract

This article is available in PDF format.

   home   |   articles   |   abstracts   |   editors   |   submit   |   subscribe   |  

This article has been accessed times since July 29, 2009.