GWA 20: The Platonic Ideal and Your Ideal Art

Raphael’s fresco The School of Athens (Plato is in the middle with finger pointed to the sky)

Platonic ideal of your art. The concept of a Platonic ideal is one I came across this month and it is a super interesting one. (Set aside Platonic Love for a second, we won’t be using it in that sense). A Platonic ideal is simply the best, the most ideal, version of something. The definition is very well explained in this video:

What this does for artists is it provides a framework for better thinking about what our art should be like. It helps create an ideal toward which we can create in our mind. This can be a bit confusing so let’s walk through this together:

The question is not what ideal art is like, not sure there is such a thing. Let’s let the critics debate that.

The question is, what is the Ideal Version of YOUR art like? Or did you already arrive at your ideal version? If there is a gap between your art and what you want it to be, thinking about what the Platonic Ideal of your art should be is very helpful in visualizing how to bridge that gap.

Moreover, there are various facets to the Platonic Ideal:

  • what are, ideally speaking, the emotions that you art brings out in people?
  • What do you want viewers (and hopefully your customers/clients) to feel when they look at or experience your art?
  • Is there a gap between that ideal and what it is now? 
  • We need to bridge that gap.. I hope now you see how useful this concept of the Platonic Ideal is (thanks Plato for the tip!)

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