Romantic art assumes that the artist is more important than art , and that the artist's emotional personality should dominate his work. Classical art assumes that art is greater than the artist , and that the artist is merely a link between the spectator and some universal order , which man , as such , is always seeking to discover.
Plato on geometric form
It may , I think , be interesting to recall here the following passage in the Philebus , which represents Plato's aesthetic attitude in the later stage of his studies.
In the Philebus Socrates says :
'I do not mean by beauty of form such beauty as that of animals or pictures which the many would suppose to be my meaning ; but , says the argument , understand me to mean straight lines and circles , and the plane or solid figures which are formed out of them by turning -lathes and rulers and measurers of angles ; for these I affirm to be not only relatively beautiful , like other things , but they are eternally and absolutely beautiful ...if arithmetic , mensuration , and weighing be taken away from any art that which remains will not be much... the rest will be only conjecture , and the better use of the senses which is given by experience and practice , in addition to a certain power of guessing , which is commonly called art , which is perfected by attention and pains ... ' 1.
The Modern Sculptors' Creed
We have here a concept of beauty of form deliberately dissociated from representational meaning. If we bring the passage into direct relation with modern sculpture it would read as follows ;
'By beauty of form in sculpture I do not mean statues which have the meaning of beautiful bodies ; I mean sculpture which has the meaning of geometrical forms.
'A work of sculpture in the construction of which the architectural activity has not predominated as a poor thing ; it is only an empirical approximation , the production of an imitative and a hand trained in an art school.'