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Thread: Beauty

  1. #1

    Beauty

    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.


    Gassho,
    Anne
    ~st~

  2. #2
    Wow this is a really provocative post. I have long considered myself unable to "understand" art, unable to fit in with those who do. However, I frequently ponder this topic of how I know when I find something beautiful--as you said, it could be something ordinary, or abstract, man-made, or natural. It's one of those Zen Koans, something that is known without being verbally describable. And working with animals, it often strikes me how they "understand" beauty in obviously a similar manner to humans--the joy and silliness of so many species when they encounter the first snowfall, the shared desire to stretch out luxuriously in a patch of sunshine, preferences for their environment to be ordered a certain way that are so unique to the individual. (I knew a Lab once who would take anything "out of place" in a room and eat it, it was clearly a form of doggie OCD. Yeah he had surgery a couple of times and the owners always had to make sure everything was neatly in its place in their home!) There is something ineffable about it. Why would a crow use a plastic container lid to sled down a snowy roof over and over again? To experience the simple beauty of the unique sensation, i.e. it's fun for the same reason humans ski. We can intuitively understand why animals do things if we just forget our delusions of "superiority" and allow the realization of how similar we are. So of course visual beauty should relate the same way, and Prum has it exactly right--we are determined to put it backwards, because to do otherwise would be admitting to both the ineffablility of beauty, and the participation of animal species in it. (Science has shown that audible beauty translates, i.e. cows give more milk to classical music than other genres, LOL and many other studies).

    Thanks for another awesome topic!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  3. #3
    Hi Anne,

    My grandmother was a painter. Thanks to her I learned to enjoy a lot of classic impressionist works when I was a kid. She always told me that art and beauty are there always, you just have to learn how to look at life. You can find beauty in a dumpster with rotten food, as well as in a tranquil pond in the forest.

    I found a lot of beauty sitting right next to my dieing mother in the hospital

    This kind of thought lead me to study graphic design and I made beauty a functional thing. Part of my day is always appreciate beauty in all that surrounds me. And thanks to our Zen practice, beauty became a constant.

    In Zazen we can still the mind to just observe the beauty of everything that exists in this very instant.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  4. #4
    Hello Kyonin and Jakuden,

    Thank you for your thoughtful (and astounding - an order-compulsive lab!!!) responses.

    Yes, as the saying goes 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'...

    Jakuden, in case you missed this in the NYTimes a few days ago this is a fascinating take on animal emotion by Frans de Waal...
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/08/o...ls-humans.html

    There are extraordinary gifts and beautiful lessons to learn sitting with the dying. So much to learn there and I guess everywhere if we are open.

    _/\_
    Anne

    ~st~

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Cooperix View Post
    Hello Kyonin and Jakuden,

    Thank you for your thoughtful (and astounding - an order-compulsive lab!!!) responses.

    Yes, as the saying goes 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'...

    Jakuden, in case you missed this in the NYTimes a few days ago this is a fascinating take on animal emotion by Frans de Waal...
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/08/o...ls-humans.html

    There are extraordinary gifts and beautiful lessons to learn sitting with the dying. So much to learn there and I guess everywhere if we are open.

    _/\_
    Anne

    ~st~
    Thanks Anne, great article! I love how it ends by emphasizing how attached we get to differences. Why do we resist so much the concept of some things crossing races, genders, and of course species? Of course there are differences, but there are shared experiences too, in which lie the wonder of the universe.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

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