Wollheim on Pictorial Representation
This essay was written as a contribution to a symposium in honour of the distinguished aesthetician Richard Wollheim, and begins with a sympathetic summary of his highly influential account of depiction in terms of the successfully realized intention that viewers have a certain sort ofseeing-inexperience faced with a picture depicting a given subject. While agreeing with the basic thrust of Wollheim's account, which makes a certain sort of visual experience in appropriate viewers criterial of achieved depiction, it differs with Wollheim as to whether that experience is invariably one of seeing in, given the twofold attention to subject and surface that the notion, as Wollheim conceives it, necessarily involves. An alternative account is sketched, Wollheimian in spirit, but closer than most recent proposals to the classic Gombrichian view of depiction as involving something akin to illusion. It is proposed that a picture that depicts a subject is one fashioned so as to yield an experience ofas-if seeingof its subject, but not an experience that engenders the false beliefs typical of illusion.
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