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An interpretation in philosophy of art, is an explanation of the meaning of some work of art. An interpretation expresses an understanding of a work of art, a poem, performance, or piece of literature.

It is an area in which psychological processes can play an extensive role.

Aims of interpretation

One or many

There are many different theories of interpretation. On the one hand, there are an infinite number of interpretations for any given piece of art, any one of which may be considered valid.[citation needed] However, it may also be claimed that there really is only one valid interpretation for any given piece of art.

The aesthetic theory that people approach art with different aims is called pluralism. People's interpretations of art may be evaluated relative to these aims. The aim of some of these interpretations is such that they may be said to be true or false and the aim of others do not lend themselves to designating truth or falsity to art.

Intended interpretation

Among those theories which permit for interpretations being named as valid or invalid, are ones which attempt to identify what the artist is trying to accomplish and interpret the art in terms of whether or not the artist has succeeded. In this view, there is a single correct interpretation consistent with the artist's intention for any given art work.

See also

  • Against Interpretation
  • Representation (arts)


  • Michael Krausz, Is there a single right interpretation?
  • E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Aims of Interpretation

External links


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