Is Art Necessarily Designed To Be Beautiful?

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Is Art Necessarily Designed To Be Beautiful?
TheWillowOfDarkness
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Posted Feb 13, 2013 - 9:45 PM:

This thread is burdened by a failure to actually consider the nature of art in its pure form. Rather than strike at the heart of what art means, why people engage in it, an analysis which would clearly illumination the relationship of beauty to art, the discussion has become bogged down in pointless distractions about whether art must always be beautiful. To understand the relationship of beauty to art, it is most prudent to examine the question through exploring what art means, as that allows conception of differing notions of art and why some include beauty and other do not. Art is always about meaning. About glorifying a particular meaning as a sublime aspect of reality. A notion used to identify worthy ideas, understandings and meaning which ought to be present in reality. After this universal trait of art, of any definition of art, is recognised, it is simple to identify the relationship of art to beauty, why some demand that beauty is a requirement for art and why other steadfastly reject the idea that beauty is required for art.

Art, since it is about meaning, can be of a very dialectic nature. New ideas of art are often formed in opposition to those that went before it. A reaction extolling the antithesis of a previous art is not uncommon. Examining art through this lens allows us to clearly see what the potential relationship of beauty is to art, whether it is part or art or completely separate from it. Let's say that we are in a period where conventional aesthetic beauty is considered a necessary part of art. During such a period the pinnacle of artistic achievement might considered be a realistic depiction of classically beautiful proportions. Within this period, such a style is the one which is promoted and respected, with other styles of art being rejected as devoid of beauty and classified as “not art.” Now let's imagine I fed up with this glorification of realistic beauty. I want to see some of the simpler and less technical meanings of reality recognised, as opposed to “proper meaning” being restricted to classical beautiful realistic depictions. To achieve my goal of expanding or changing the range of valued meanings I need to present an a set alternative meanings to people. A range of meanings which undoes the present restriction of proper meaning to the beautiful and realistic. There a number of ways that I can do this.

Firstly, I could attack “art” meaningless. I make the argument that this stuff known as “art,” the beautiful and realistic, was worthless and pointless. The idea that art if impractical and a waste of time is a clear example of this kind of approach. Secondly, I could attempt to expand the range of what was “beautiful and realistic.” I try and draw new associations between the ideas of “beautiful and realistic,” so expanding the range of ideas and meanings thought to be valuable. A clear example of this can be seen when someone starts describing something which “ugly” as displaying beauty. Finally I could attempt to change the definition of a “proper meaning.” I could try to morph the definition of valuable meaning, “art,” away from only being “beautiful and realistic.” If I was to suggest that art did not require beauty and realism, I would plant the seed for meanings which where neither beautiful of realistic to be valued.


Of course, this doesn't resolve the question of whether beauty is a requirement for art. Such a question still has to be answered by giving a truth about what ought to be a valued meaning. What it does do, however, is show how ridiculous this bickering over the meaning of worse in relation to beauty and art is. There is no need for convoluted examples of chocolate, beauty and purpose to explain the nature of art, and which purport to show how all those ideas are necessarily connected to art or not necessary to it at all. The nature meaning is such that any of those connections could be present. It is also the nature of meaning that none of those connection might be present. It is all a question of what the truth of “art” is. A question of what discourse of “art” is the truth of valuable meaning.

Here we see can how this entire back and forth about the relationship of beauty to art, within this thread, has much of a pointless case of two people shouting and banging their heads against a wall. Each side is using to mutually exclusive definitions of“art.” There is nothing wrong with having such an argument per say. It is logically coherent that two people can disagree on what qualifies is art and then attempt to convince the other they are right. The issue is that some people in this discussion seem unaware of the meaning of their respective positions in relation to how art and understandings of art function.
invizzy
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Posted Feb 15, 2013 - 3:20 AM:

Thankyou TheWillowOfDarkness for your analysis, however I must disagree somewhat. Firstly you say that we are using mutuallly exclusive definitions of art, and that our discussions seems futile. But isn't that the point? Because our understanding of art is in conflict then by reason at least one of us is wrong in our thinking. Isn't this worth a discussion?

It seems like you are also implying that we can create our own 'meanings' to argue our points. Although we can argue any way we want, some arguments will necessarily be wrong. Either all art is designed to be beautiful or it isn't, there's no halfway point.

This means that if we can think of something is art that is not designed to be beautiful then this relationship between beauty and art is proven to be false. There are real rights and wrongs in this discussion.

Unless I have missed something I think this is a worthwhile conversation to have. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean. Do you believe there is right and wrong? Are both sides wrong?

mric
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Posted Feb 15, 2013 - 5:47 AM:

GilesField wrote:
Thankyou TheWillowOfDarkness for your analysis, however I must disagree somewhat. Firstly you say that we are using mutuallly exclusive definitions of art, and that our discussions seems futile. But isn't that the point? Because our understanding of art is in conflict then by reason at least one of us is wrong in our thinking. Isn't this worth a discussion?

It seems like you are also implying that we can create our own 'meanings' to argue our points. Although we can argue any way we want, some arguments will necessarily be wrong. Either all art is designed to be beautiful or it isn't, there's no halfway point.

This means that if we can think of something is art that is not designed to be beautiful then this relationship between beauty and art is proven to be false. There are real rights and wrongs in this discussion.

Unless I have missed something I think this is a worthwhile conversation to have. Perhaps you could clarify what you mean. Do you believe there is right and wrong? Are both sides wrong?


Actually it is the word 'beautiful' that is being differently defined in this discussion, as far as I can see.

GF is defining beauty in such a broad way that it, in essence, covers all aspects of the 'art is whatever society agrees is art' definition. So if Picasso said that 'Guernica' wasn't painted as an object of beauty, and a concord of people in the arts agree that it is not a beautiful object (instead calling it moving and powerful), GF then points to the fact that Picasso painted something that is interesting, challenging and moving as sufficient evidence to claim that it is beautiful. Now, the evidence that Guernica is interesting etc. is that it is what society agrees is art (it is hung in a gallery, written about by art critics etc).

If you accept this idiosyncratic definition of beauty, then it isn't a big leap to claim that all art beautiful - you just need to get over the challenge of ascription of purpose in design (can art be made without intending to make art?), to get to the assertion that all art is designed to be beautiful.

Personally, I find that definition of beauty rather too broad to be useful....

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Posted Feb 15, 2013 - 6:34 AM:

mric wrote:


Actually it is the word 'beautiful' that is being differently defined in this discussion, as far as I can see.

GF is defining beauty in such a broad way that it, in essence, covers all aspects of the 'art is whatever society agrees is art' definition. So if Picasso said that 'Guernica' wasn't painted as an object of beauty, and a concord of people in the arts agree that it is not a beautiful object (instead calling it moving and powerful), GF then points to the fact that Picasso painted something that is interesting, challenging and moving as sufficient evidence to claim that it is beautiful. Now, the evidence that Guernica is interesting etc. is that it is what society agrees is art (it is hung in a gallery, written about by art critics etc).

If you accept this idiosyncratic definition of beauty, then it isn't a big leap to claim that all art beautiful - you just need to get over the challenge of ascription of purpose in design (can art be made without intending to make art?), to get to the assertion that all art is designed to be beautiful.

Personally, I find that definition of beauty rather too broad to be useful....



Thankyou! That is a pretty fair summation. In answer to your question, I think art can be made without intending to make art, however not without intending to be beautiful. This means that art before the 18th Century can still be art, which was when the current meaning started currency.

Interestingly before the term 'fine arts' was settled on, 'beautiful arts' was one way of describing music, drama, painting and literature (the 'polite arts' was another). Dance and architecture were only sometimes included, which fits the understanding that they may be intended for other purposes besides beauty. I would have to agree that achitecture seems likely to have purpose beside beauty, (to create a building to live perhaps) while only some dance seems to make the cut. It is a shame perhaps that the term 'beautiful arts' was not retained but the meaning was, adding to the confusion.

As you may expect I don't think tuse of 'beauty' is too broad to be useful. 'Beauty' is already a very broad term, almost anything being able to be described as beautiful so I understand your reservations. Pleasure, though, is really the common ingredient to beauty. I understand that there are other ways to describe Guernica (interesting and moving, as you suggest) but nothing about that contradicts the idea of being pleasurable, it is pleasurably moving and interesting. Even 'shocking' or 'tragic', when we speak about art, doesn't necessarily contradict 'pleasure'. As mentioned before that is because I believe art is different to content. The intention to please (yes broadly if you must) is common to all artworks though.

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