Beauty has seemingly taken a back seat in recent times as modern artists use art more and more as a tool to make a statement. Art in the modern world encourages the viewer to interpret the world through different eyes - it is used to raise social and political issues.
That said, some artists have taken their statements too far, using shock tactics to garner publicity to sell their work. As a result, the public is demanding a return to beauty and harmony. This renewed interest in beauty has sparked a debate; should beauty be a primary consideration in the artists’ studio?
Before we can answer the question “should beauty matter to the artist?” we need to have an understanding of what beauty is. This is not easy as everyone has their own interpretation of what is beautiful. Fundamentally, beauty is recognized when our mental faculties feel that the object is “right”. It is something deeply personal and difficult to pin point.
Art can capture beauty in many different ways. There is obvious aesthetic beauty that leaves the viewer with a feeling of happiness; a sunset, the perfection found in nature every day, a beautiful woman…
Then there is emotional beauty – imagery that captures a beautiful emotion, such as love, peace, hope, majesty and power… a soaring eagle, an athlete, a tender moment shared between mother and child. The example below is Picasso’s Portrait Du Maitre de Ballet de la Scala de Milan. The man’s features are not beautiful, but his poise, dignity and facial expression draw us in and captivate us. The emotion is beautiful!
Sometimes we are attracted to color or texture. As in the abstract example by Calman Shemi below, the beauty is not tangible, but the dynamism of the color is electrifying, and quite simply, beautiful!
Should beauty matter to the artist? In my opinion it should, but not in isolation, and it does not necessarily need to be the sole objective of the artist. Our perception of beauty can change according to our culture, life experience and mood. From the beauty of a Mediterranean vista to the expressive lines on an old woman’s face, beauty is subjective and can be found in the most unexpected places!