Scott Burdick on Modern Art vs. Beauty

Briton Rivière - Aphrodite 02.jpg

Briton Rivière – Aphrodite 02″ by Briton Rivière – info: [1] – pic: [2]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The state of contemporary art occasionally pops up as a topic here. To me, two necessary components art are truth and beauty, and the two are often very much intertwined. Would you not agree that Truth is a beautiful thing, though it often stings? Beauty is not always true (witness any actress who has put herself under the knife), of course, but it is terribly important—I would argue that beauty is, in fact, vital to man’s well-being. It it brings us joy and delight, it is ennobling, it can cause us to aspire—it has powerful effect upon our mind for good or ill (but that Beauty is so often an Achilles’ heel for mankind only serves to point to its importance to us).

If most of us very honest and unconcerned with others’ opinions (this rarely bothers me; I’m part O’Hara, so pulling punches is simply not my MO), few of us will call many modern art pieces “beautiful”. (Of course, we must be willing to pass judgment, just as we do when deciding whether or not something is good for us to eat.)

Interesting, yes, but very rarely lovely, much less capable of enrapturing the mind. If anything, most modern art seems to do everything it possibly can to be anything but, to even intentionally nauseate and insult.

Now, I am a photographer, but one who has always loved painting and fine arts, and many consider photography to be another vein of art. Therefore it is important, as I’ve said time and again, for those of us creating visual works to seriously think what it is we are doing and why. It is a life-long process, of course. This speech, “The Banishment of Beauty” is primarily concerned with painting, but it’s very easy for anyone creating visual works to consider and apply. But please don’t click away if you’re not an artist—this speech in the videos brings up things those who buy art and visit galleries and museums has no doubt often wondered about themselves. Thus I think it’s good for all of us to watch.

Nod of appreciation to John C. Wright, whose blog I somehow (happily) stumbled across.


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