Define 'beauty'

Define 'beauty'
Cavacava
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#71 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 17, 2013 - 10:57 AM:

QuantumIguana wrote:


As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If the beauty is in the object itself, if one of us finds a painting beautiful and another does not, then one of them is objectively wrong. In monster movies, it's not uncommon for the ugly alien to carry off the beautiful human. If beauty is objective, this makes sense. But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the slimy alien would probably find another slimy alien beautiful rather than a human woman.

The Kinkade painting may not be great art, but it is pretty good art, and is at least not ugly, at least by most people's standards. I would be surprised to see it prominently featured centuries from now in the best museums. Beautiful isn't necessarily the same as great. Some art might be great art, but might not be something people would want in their living rooms.

I'm not claiming that just because the masses find something beautiful that means that it is great art. But the art world's measure of greatness seems to depend greatly on how much collectors will pay for a piece.


Yes, I agree with the statement that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", I think the way beauty comes into being is in the interaction between the "eye of the beholder" and the work of art. It is dynamic relationship, not static. Where the work of art captures the imagination of the viewer, and enables the viewer to see possibilities that were not available to it prior to its view of the work of art. The work of art produces an emotive response in us, it is a feeling of delight that stops us in our tracks when we experience it.

When we describe a work of art as being beautiful we are taking the subjective experience of a particular object and universalizing it for all, almost like the categorical imperative (Kant describes Beauty as the symbol of the Good in his Third Critique).

I don't think I can do this with Mr. Kinkade's work. One of the issues we have with our Society and Culture is that people want things for the sake of having things. The possession of a work of art becomes a fetish item. A person pays a huge amount of money to purchase a named work of art, why? Status perhaps, or the idea that along with possession will come pleasure? What is Beautiful becomes a popularity contest.






QuantumIguana
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#72 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 20, 2013 - 7:07 AM:

Has there ever really been a time when art was not a popularity contest? The masses, the collectors, the dealers, the curators, the patrons. Artists have always had to please someone else.

I have no use for a Thomas Kinkade painting myself, but if people respond to it, if people find his paintings beautiful, why should I object? If only the right sort of people can determine if something is beautiful, it begins to look like the Emperor's New Clothes. I wouldn't call his paintings great art, but that doesn't make them ugly.
Cavacava
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#73 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 20, 2013 - 9:26 AM:

QuantumIguana wrote:
Has there ever really been a time when art was not a popularity contest? The masses, the collectors, the dealers, the curators, the patrons. Artists have always had to please someone else.

I have no use for a Thomas Kinkade painting myself, but if people respond to it, if people find his paintings beautiful, why should I object? If only the right sort of people can determine if something is beautiful, it begins to look like the Emperor's New Clothes. I wouldn't call his paintings great art, but that doesn't make them ugly.



Well, in a very practical sense art is a fabrication, the product of labor, to the extent that Society finds value in that production the artwork is sold or remains unsold. It has always been that way and it probably will always be that way. Last week I was with a group of women artists, we discussed what their customers are looking for.

Some of their customers want to know all about the artist's intentions, some don't want to know anything, and funny, this is also reflected in the artists themselves. Some have definite intents, some say they don't have any intent, it is just what they feel/think. The striking thing, and none of them disagreed when one lady stated that the vast majority of their sales were for decorative objects. The works purchased fit, have a place in the buyer's lives. The undercurrent, I sensed, what was not said, is that these ladies goal was not the creation of a decorative item, even if that is how it is valued.

No, there has to be more to beauty. Sure you can read an exciting new mystery, a real page turner, and it provides great entertainment. Or, we can read Homer, Plato, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Joyce, Faulkner...these works linger with us, they stop us in our tracks. They are beautiful. How does that occur? What is beauty? Where is it?

QuantumIguana
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#74 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 20, 2013 - 5:38 PM:

Cavacava wrote:
No, there has to be more to beauty. Sure you can read an exciting new mystery, a real page turner, and it provides great entertainment. Or, we can read Homer, Plato, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Joyce, Faulkner...these works linger with us, they stop us in our tracks. They are beautiful. How does that occur? What is beauty? Where is it?


Is Goya's painting of Saturn devouring his son beautiful? It may be great art, but it isn't something most people would care to put up in their living rooms.

I say that beauty is a response to something, rather than something inherent to the thing itself. I have no interest in a Kinkade painting, but I see no point in sneering at someone because they see beauty in his work. That other things are more beautiful - or more significant - doesn't mean that they have no beauty.

When the Creature from the Black Lagoon carries away the human woman, we judge the woman to be beautify and the creature to be ugly, but that is a matter of perspective. I look at beauty as a key - the beautiful thing doesn't cause a reaction in us, it doesn't have causative powers. Instead, it is like a key that only opens the lock if it fits. People often disagree about works of art, and the way I see it, it is a matter of the art hitting the correct "tumblers" in one person and not in the other.
Cavacava
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#75 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Oct 20, 2013 - 6:40 PM:

QuantumIguana wrote:


Is Goya's painting of Saturn devouring his son beautiful? It may be great art, but it isn't something most people would care to put up in their living rooms.

I say that beauty is a response to something, rather than something inherent to the thing itself. I have no interest in a Kinkade painting, but I see no point in sneering at someone because they see beauty in his work. That other things are more beautiful - or more significant - doesn't mean that they have no beauty.

When the Creature from the Black Lagoon carries away the human woman, we judge the woman to be beautify and the creature to be ugly, but that is a matter of perspective. I look at beauty as a key - the beautiful thing doesn't cause a reaction in us, it doesn't have causative powers. Instead, it is like a key that only opens the lock if it fits. People often disagree about works of art, and the way I see it, it is a matter of the art hitting the correct "tumblers" in one person and not in the other.



It is very interesting that you bring up Goya's painting. The work is mythic, the act of the old trying to avoid the fate of the new, which is always unsuccessful. Zeus (Greek version) castrates Saturn and tosses the genetellia into the ocean from which Venus/Aphrodite arises. Saturn devours his children to try to avoid being killed by one of them, as it was foretold.

In my prior post:
cavacava wrote:

Well, in a very practical sense art is a fabrication, the product of labor, to the extent that Society finds value in that production the artwork is sold or remains unsold. It has always been that way and it probably will always be that way. .


Maybe the idea of consumption might illuminate why people purchase works of art, why is there a fetishishism in regards to art, why art is a popularity contest, were some succeed and some fail has to do with what it means to consum. We consume food to survive, we purchase all kinds of goods for a purpose. What is the purpose of purchasing art. Why would someone pay $20 million for a Van Gogh. Is it a demonstration of the power of consumption, similar to Saturn (Uranus in Greek, I think) and of course it is all sexually charged to the hilt under this interpretation.

Also, and interesting is the fact that while you could not see hanging Goya painting in your living room, Goya actually painted this as a mural in one of the rooms in his home. It was never meant for general consumption, while some may question on this basis if it is truly art, I think it definitely is. It is now in a museum, for it own protection.

Perhaps beauty is more than skin deep?


Later.
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