Even in reaching for the beautiful there is beauty, and also in suffering whatever it is that one suffers en route.’ -Plato-

Hello all,

This post follows from the craft v. art post and fits in with some of your very intuitive and thoughtful comments to that post. So the next topic?
Let’s talk about beauty and art.

I recently had a show and in my artist’s statement I mentioned how my work is about beauty. I do find beauty in the not so obvious, for example a seed even a dead, dried blade of grass. Those things that are so easily overlooked. I celebrate the mundane. As I find beauty there.

Someone came up to me at the opening and snickered about using the word ‘beauty’ in my artist’s statement. And it made me wonder about that, what makes beauty into a negative when it comes to contemporary art.

I found this succinct response to the question about beauty in art in the online magazine Philosophy Now …

What then is beauty? Beauty is much more than cosmetic: it is not about prettiness. There are plenty of pretty pictures available at the neighborhood home furnishing store; but these we might not refer to as beautiful; and it is not difficult to find works of artistic expression that we might agree are beautiful that are not necessarily pretty. Beauty is rather a measure of affect, a measure of emotion. In the context of art, beauty is the gauge of successful communication between participants – the conveyance of a concept between the artist and the perceiver. Beautiful art is successful in portraying the artist’s most profound intended emotions, the desired concepts, whether they be pretty and bright, or dark and sinister. But neither the artist nor the observer can be certain of successful communication in the end. So beauty in art is eternally subjective.

And to take it a step further I’d venture to say that sentimentality comes into the discussion… beauty for the sake of emotional charge? As an example, in the art world look at the paintings of Norman Rockwell, a very skilled and gifted illustrator, but so directed to elicit a particular emotion that they lose any sort of serious artistic appeal. Not that that’s at all bad, it’s just where the idea of ‘beauty’ in art starts getting muddied. In the world of poetry the beloved poet the late Mary Oliver is an example of an artist who was not taken seriously by poetry critics because she wrote about beauty, nature, love even God. There are endless examples.

As an artist it’s my responsibility to express my own feelings and responses to my world, not try to manipulate the viewer’s. Although I do strive to point out what moves me. Simply that. It might be argued the Rockwell and Oliver were doing just that. See? its complicated.

True in all art forms I’d say.

Beauty for the sake of beauty in a fine article in the NYTimes recently about the evolution of beauty: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/s...selection.html

What do you think about beauty and art? Any experience with this? My friend tried to make a joke of my ‘beauty’ statement, but it provided me with lots to think about.