Richard Wollheim

Matravers, Derek (2023). Richard Wollheim. In: Carroll, Noël and Gilmore, Jonathan eds. The Routledge Companion to the Philosophies of Painting and Sculpture. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 407–416.



Richard Wollheim was formidable in many respects; he was culturally extremely sophisticated, socially well-connected, possessed a vast knowledge of both past and contemporary art, and had well-placed confidence in his own judgement. He published widely in philosophy, with work in political philosophy, the philosophy of mind, psychoanalysis, and ethics. This chapter considers his contribution under five headings: the ontology of art; painting as an art; representation, expression, and visual delight; interpretation; and his contribution to modernist art theory. Wollheim agrees that, in one sense, there is no physical object which is a plausible candidate to be a novel or to be a piece of music. He was committed to showing how claims made within criticism about art such as painting and sculpture could be true of a physical object. For Wollheim, representation and expressive properties are the fundamental perceptual properties that constitute the experience of pictures – along, of course, with the experience of visual delight.

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