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John Ruskin : s’exercer à l’innocence

Abstract : In The Elements of Drawing, the famous English art critic John Ruskin takes on the role of teacher to deliver, in three long letters addressed to beginners, his teaching on the art of drawing. In this hybrid work, which combines exercises, observations on colours, comments on paintings and lyrical descriptions of nature, posterity will mainly remember a short passage on the formation of perception. In a footnote to the first chapter, Ruskin tells us that "the whole technical power of painting depends on our recovery of what may be called the innocence of the eye". This famous note has been the subject of numerous commentaries (by E. Gombrich and N. Goodman in particular), which discuss, and often refute, the possibility of a virgin gaze. In contrast to the overhanging readings that isolate this passage and transform it into "theory", we propose to return to Ruskin's text by thinking of the innocence of the eye in its singular and foundational articulation to the exercises that accompany it. We submit the following hypothesis: it is the exercise, in its repeated conduct, that makes possible the understanding of the meaning of perceptive innocence. Far from an academic learning process, Ruskin's exercice of the gaze is a form of life.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03145515
Contributor : Sarah Troche <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 4:15:27 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 9:04:36 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 7:26:03 PM

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Sarah Troche. John Ruskin : s’exercer à l’innocence. Methodos : savoirs et textes, Savoirs textes langage - UMR 8163, 2021, L'exercice en art, ⟨10.4000/methodos.8192⟩. ⟨hal-03145515⟩

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