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Old 04-14-2012, 10:48 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Scrunton seems to be a 'nostalgist'. It is true that in architecture we have suffered through (briefly) brutalism, in the visual arts the worst excesses of 'pop', in the films and theatre the saccarhine rubbish of the 'musical'. For all of which our homes and workplaces are in general safer and more comfortable and our public spaces more human, the visual arts are alive to a wider audience, and the performing arts more responsive to reality than to fantasy.

Sometimes the form that follows the function is both lively and challenging, if not conventionally beautiful. Pursuing the essence and not the surface is, to my mind, more important.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:33 AM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Originally Posted by karen m
If I were asked for a very succint explanation of art, it would be that it is 'communication'. More precisely, a conversation. The artist speaks, not only from his own inspiration, but to the viewer. I have always felt that no work of art is really complete until it resonates with at least one who views it.

Beauty is often a result, but it is so much more than that.

I quite agree re. the conversation part; as for the resonating, as long as the artist feels the work resonates with himself, I can accept that.

FWIW, a very good book on how art works (at least according to modern neuroscience, but in a readable format) is Eric Kandel's Age of Insight. There's lots of open questions - it's a pretty young field - but I think it's a good beginning in stepping away from the blather of folks like Scruton or Greenberg.
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:11 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Scruton seems to be a 'nostalgist'.
Quote:
I think it's a good beginning in stepping away from the blather of folks like Scruton or Greenberg.

Scruton is merely agreeing with the philosophers of the past.

Beauty, truth, are values NOT BLATHER.

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Old 04-15-2012, 07:11 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Scruton is merely agreeing with the philosophers of the past.

We do not live in the past. Plato believed that all real horses were but a form of the ideal, which do you interact with, which would you prefer to paint ? To speak of beauty and truth as though they were absolutes in an artistic sense is blather.

There are recurring arguments for some standard of aesthetic which all humans recognise. Symmetry of facial features for example or Dutton's universal landscape. All fall over in the face of the taste of the significant minority. Not only is there no universal standard to which we can aspire there has, Scruton notwithstanding, never been such a standard.
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:03 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive Green
There are recurring arguments for some standard of aesthetic which all humans recognise. ... Not only is there no universal standard to which we can aspire there has ... never been such a standard.

The standard is beauty.
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:21 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Scruton is merely agreeing with the philosophers of the past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive Green
We do not live in the past.

Philosophers live in the past but they speak in the present.
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Old 04-22-2012, 04:01 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

“The aim of all art is the creation and representation of the beautiful...”

This seems rather simplistic... and easily refuted considering a good deal of art that is recognized as "great" or "brilliant" and yet certainly not "beautiful":



I would say that rather the goal of the creation of art is to inspire a degree of pleasure in the audience. I say this in a manner that goes beyond mere hedonism. As OliveOyl mentions in her post referring to Umberto Eco's On Ugliness there is an innate human "voyeuristic impulse behind our attraction to the gruesome and the horrible." Kant... and perhaps even better, Burke defined these seemingly opposite drives as striving toward the "Beautiful" and the "Sublime".

Burke pointed out that these seemingly opposing passions were the result of the two most intensely emotional human experiences: sex and death. "Beauty" is commonly linked to that which we find attractive. The Sublime is linked to that which inspires fear... that which we find horrible. In both instance, the result is a degree of pleasure. In both instances the merit of the "art" depends upon the ability of the artist to transcend the subject through the language and vocabulary of art. Ultimately, Goya's prints, The Disasters of War are beautifully drawn, his mastery of aquatint exquisite... so that one might say... in spite of the horror of the imagery... that they are indeed "beautiful".

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Kant, Adolf Loos, Filippo Marinetti, and many Modernist theorists and critics feared and rejected traditional concepts of "beauty" as being "too easy"... and more-so, too seductive. The beautiful women was able to seduce the viewer until his logic and reason were overwhelmed and he could not properly judge whether the painting was beautiful... or merely the subject matter. There was also a great deal of misogynist attitudes present among many Modernists theorists/critics. Women represented domesticity, ornamentation, emotion, conservatism, and bourgeois society... all despised by any rightful thinking Modernist who was logical, rigorous, revolutionary, and unconventional.

Beauty remains a challenging question for artist today... If beauty is a measure of art, how is it that works such as...



this...



this...



or even this...



can be rejected as "bad art"? What do they lack that these "great" works of art have?:







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Old 04-22-2012, 05:05 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

.. added nudity icon.

Not sure whether this is relevant but Scott Burdick's video essay "Banishment of beauty" has some interesting points though I feel it is tempered by a certain resentment of the success of other modern artists.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGX0_0VL06U
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:08 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stlukesguild
“The aim of all art is the creation and representation of the beautiful...”

This seems rather simplistic... and easily refuted considering a good deal of art is recognized as "great" or "brilliant" and yet certainly not "beautiful"

I respect philosophers and philosophy, and beauty. I suggest you do the same.

Enough.
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:44 AM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stlukesguild
...can be rejected as "bad art"? What do they lack that these "great" works of art have?

A very interesting and difficult question. I would suggest the proportion, balance and integration of manual skill, intellectual skill and poetic skill.

So to use a different art form to illustrate. All books are written in words. The words carry information or narrative. The same story or narrative can be, and often is, written in many varying ways. So here the content is each time the same but we judge each by the choice of words, the skill with which they are arranged and the emotional or poetic content. The exact placement of each work could be argued over but the broad placement in the spectrum from good to bad within a given society's values could be roughly assessed. So a work might be poetic but intellectually thin, or intellectually sharp but poorly written. All these different works would have value but the ones at the top should have all three attributes harnessed to the same end.

The same could maybe work for painting. In Bouguereau you get manual skill and a certain amount of poetry but not much intellect. With Hirst you get Intellectual skill, moderate poetry, and low manual skill. With Emin Low manual skill, low intellectual and moderate poetry. With Rembrandt and Rothko you might argue that all three are present in force, so although working in very different arenas they are in the upper levels of artistic worth. To differentiate between Rothko and Rembrandt you might say That Rembrandt has High poetic and Manual Skill but the Intellectual content is moderate. For Rothko the Intellectual and Poetic is strong but the Manual less so.

However any such assessment is I think tied to a current society and its values and concerns. I suspect if you showed a previously uncontacted tribe in Borneo a Rembrandt and a Bouguereau they would be equally baffled by both. So Rembrandt's position would be differently assessed in his own time and society than in ours. We ascribe especial worth to artists that move the goalposts of value in their own or later times, but that is I feel is an idea of history and quite separate from the relative artistic worth of any individual work. This is an idea that seems to pass curators by so all works of Picasso are gilded with greatness whereas he actually, it seems to me, produced a broad mixture of good, great and workaday art. I suppose really we should assess works of art entirely separately from their creators, but I doubt that will ever occur we are too wedded to the myth of stardom.
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:39 AM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Finding this a very interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

Especially interesting and timely for me as I am working on a series with a lot of questions about its general appeal. The images seem to be a bit distressing to some local artist friends with whom I've shared - likely because there are echoes of an economy and and industry which has caused a downward spiral to life in this city. And I have been told that 'people prefer more beauty in their art'. So, I have to consider which is more important: my own commitment to do exactly as I please, or whether to produce something more locally appealing. Ordinarily I would definitely choose the latter, but there's a large cost factor to be considered and it makes me quite hesitant to keep on spending with no recovery in sight.

I do realize this is very 'small potatoes' in the context of this conversation but it IS extremely interesting as more thoughts keep coming. Thanks everyone.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:58 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Karen - I don't think it is small potatoes at all, in fact I'd say doing what you find essential is far more important than simply aiming to please others (unless that is what one really wants to do).

Artists decide what gets depicted, it's one of the pleasures of the job. Perhaps for you it's in the economic ruins. Even noted academics like Meissonier found such in his Ruins of the Tuileries. For most of us now it just looks like a pile of rubble, for Parisians of the period it carried the emotional import of the collapse of the Second Empire, the loss of the Franco-Prussian War, and the horror of the Commune. And it is still a beautiful painting.

I run into similar problems as you - for example, one series I am working on focuses on a friend who is going through cancer treatment, which gets pretty uniformly negative feedback re. the subject. I doubt I'll ever sell any of these, but that's not the point of doing them. For me just looking at life, and trying to express what I find essential, is.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:20 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

I respect philosophers and philosophy, and beauty. I suggest you do the same.

Why. I recognize Plato's brilliance as a writer and thinker... and yet feel he was wrong often. Philosophers themselves disagree with each other as much as artists... and considering that your "philosopher", Karol Kuzmany, has taken it upon himself to define what the goal of all art is... and I am an artist, I feel I just might have some say with regard to this.

Don't get me wrong, I largely embrace the philosophy of art pour l'art as defined by Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Theophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, etc... This means I have first judge upon a work of art in terms of aesthetics... or "formalism", to use the Modernist terminology. I feel a work of art must be visually interesting or it has failed... for without this I have no interest in delving into the work any deeper. Personally I lean toward art that explores "beauty". I am somewhat fed up with the rejection of "beauty" in Modern and Contemporary art. Indeed, I have recommended Wendy Steiner's Venus in Exile... an exploration of the rejection of beauty in Modernist art... on more than one occasion.

Having said this, I recognize the equal artistic worth of what both Burke and Kant termed as "the Sublime" which embraces ugliness, horror, fear, angst, etc... If the goal of all art is the creation and representation of the "beautiful" then what do you make of the following art:















Are these works then "failures" as works of art... or simply not even "Art"?
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:44 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

However any such assessment is I think tied to a current society and its values and concerns.

Exactly! I suspect that if you were to show this painting to a contemporary of Raphael and da Vinci...



... it would be recognized as a masterpiece. The same work, and the artist, however were vilified by the Modernists who saw Bouguereau as the anathema of all they valued and were striving toward. But we are now living in an era in which Modernism is simply one more historical "-ism" and the art that was once rejected... even hidden away... by Modernist artists, critics, and theorists, is now coming to light once more. New generations of artists and art lovers are able to question just why it is that this:



and this:



and this:



and this:



and this:



and this:



and this:



... could be seen as being so "bad"... especially in comparison to this:



or this:



or this:



What exactly is it that these paintings lack which is not lacking in Ingres, Rubens, Raphael, or the other old masters from whom they have so obviously patterned their work? Without the ability to legitimately and logically answer this question, it comes as no surprise that many contemporary artists and art lovers (look to the ARC) suspect that the rejection of such artists by the Modernists was the result of nothing more than envy... recognition that these artists represented a body of skills that they sorely lacked.
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:51 PM
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Re: Is art merely the pursuit of beauty?

Karen - I don't think it is small potatoes at all, in fact I'd say doing what you find essential is far more important than simply aiming to please others

Is this true? CB, do you imagine that many of the artists prior to the last century or so were able to survive without meeting the expectations of their patrons? How is it that Michelangelo, Rubens, Raphael, Ingres, etc... were able to produce the greatest of masterworks... while still clearly meeting the expectations of their patrons? If we really think about it, aren't the art stars of today doing no less? Do you imagine that Jeff Koons, and Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin, etc... are following their own true inner passions... or are they creating works of "shock art" in hope of grabbing the attention of the art patrons of today... the jaded "super rich"?
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