What Does Beauty Mean in Art Today? Term Paper

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¶ … beauty" mean in art today?

The concept of beauty is not a linear concept, we can point out from the very beginning towards the fact that the modern concept of beauty has evolved and has developed from beauty in the Antiquity or Middle Ages, up to modern times. In today's environment, when we talk about modernism and postmodernism in some cases, we are dealing with new beauty forms, if not new fundamentals.

Kant's definition and perspective on beauty seems an excellent spot to start a comparison and an analysis on the concept of modern beauty (or the modern concept of beauty). In the Critique of Judgment, Kant refers to the beautiful as Zweckm ssigkeit ohne Zweck, that is 'purposiveness without purpose'. This notion when referring to beauty and the beautiful would be meant to describe an object, piece of art, music, architecture etc. that has no practical use for humanity, in the sense that its practical side has been totally removed (or it has never been created). Being able to enjoy such an "non-useful" object from a practical perspective means that it has other qualities that makes us find it pleasurable. It is beautiful in this sense.

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In many ways, Kant's definition is an excellent one in what art and painting is concerned. Perhaps even more than in associated humanistic areas, like architecture, paintings have no practical use. Nevertheless, many area beautiful because they awake certain feelings with us, because they give us a pleasing sentiment, spiritually stimulate us. In this sense, we can talk about the "art for art" motivation, which would probably mean that an artist's sole purpose is to create art, he has no practical motivation (following on Kant's definition) and his only mission is to create something beautiful.

Term Paper on What Does Beauty Mean in Art Today? Assignment

The modern concept of beauty in paintings is perhaps less based on this non-practical element, to a degree to which it is perhaps not even taken into consideration. According to several sources, the dialogue between the artists and the viewer was transformed into a dialogue between the artist and himself in an attempt to achieve an "aesthetic response." In this sense, "art became an introspective dialogue in a formal language that developed in the process of painting." Even more, I would go even further than this and point out towards the fact that the modern artist is proposing a dialogue with the viewer on an introspective level, with very little "visual information" and much left to the interpretation of each individual. From this point-of-view, we can support the idea of a multipolar concept of beauty, with multiple forms depending on individual interpretations.

This visual superficiality and an inclination towards using the minimal amount of elements in his paintings is obvious in Gary Komaran's "The Blue Cake." The painting was finalized in 2000 and is part of a greater set of paintings with cakes, including the Cake Black on Grey, for example. The artist himself is remarkable in his minimal style and his attempt to draw beauty with simple lines and shapes and minimal, but extravagant, extraordinary coloring.

As previously mentioned, the painting the Blue Cake has minimal lines and coloring. The introspective dialogue is clear here, with the artist only barely giving an idea of the content of his painting through the defining lines of the cake and the title. We notice first hand that there are almost no details such as a certain message on the cake, add-ons and festooning elements: just the defining lines. Further more, all these additional elements are left for each individual viewer to add in his own interpretation of the creation.

The irony of the artist or at least his own personal vision of a cake is exemplary in the coloring. The cake is blue, which is something not easily related to the actual real world: generally, almost always, there are no blue cakes. You can have yellow cakes, brown cakes and white cakes, but almost never blue cakes.

In this sense, we can draw upon one of the other characteristics of beauty in its modern concept: a certain extravagance in eluding the reality and the real world by giving out attributes that are not generally reflected in everyday life. Renaissance beauty, for example, was often associated to a real representation of the world. In the case of modern beauty, instead, much of the beauty is left to be interpreted and created by each individual viewer. The artist renounces the role of guide into the beauty of things and gives out only certain hints of where one should look.

Another thing we should perhaps point out in relation with the modern concept of beauty, as reflected in this painting and in this artist's conception is that there is often a very thin line between beauty and the grotesque. If we look at the Blue Cake, we can notice first hand that the lines are not straight and that the cake looks as if it is going to break or fall over. The modern aesthetic breaks away from traditional one and encourages a complete freedom of shape or form.

Jim Dine, another modern artist, goes for a more classical approach, often with Fauvist influences marked by intense colorations in his paintings. Compared to Gary Komaran, he is much more interested in depicting an object that is closer related to classical aestheticism and the Blue Vase, Yellow Flowers, painted in 1993, is a good example in this sense. There is almost nothing left to imagination here and the painting reflects very close the object it is depicting.

On the other hand, the painting Red Passion follows more on the modern concept of art than the one previously mentioned, as well as than others in his portfolio. Indeed, one of the characteristics mentioned when referring to Komaran's paintings is reflected here as well: that introspective conversation between the artist and the viewer, the fact that the artist leaves much to interpretation rather than give away his message clearly.

The painting represents a bird and a heart, each placed on halves of a paper. The thing that first draws the attention of the viewer is the strong nuance of red that dominates the painting. Indeed, even the two shapes (the bird and the heart) are not actually sketched out as a shape, but are defined by the contrast in color between the nuances of red. It is quite an impression and perhaps another approach towards the concept of modern beauty, insisting on suggestion and inspiration rather than on exactly drawing lines and representing shapes. Given the fact that the message of the painting is barely implied by the elements forming it, as by it is by the title, everything is left to the own introspection of the viewer.

Certainly, at this point we can point out towards the fact that, different from the 'rules' that defined beauty in the past, modern beauty does not necessarily have restricting lines. The interpretation of beauty becomes an individual choice and the modern artist is not interested to adder to certain characteristics of beauty. Beauty can come out of a picture of a heart and a bird on a very bright red landscape.

Beverly McIver, with her painting Pretty is..a Little Black Girl is a perfect blend of the previous two paintings that we have discussed. First of all, the association with the grotesque, which we have discussed here, is obvious here and even takes an overironic perspective. This is clear starting with the title, because pretty is an adjective, but, in this case, it can also be the name of the character being displayed as a "little black girl."

Outrageously through its portrayal, the painting shows a grown man, dressed as a girl and, with his painted face and wig, personalizing in a grotesque and ironic manner, a black girl. The association between the main character and the clown in the painted image is obvious, moving the entire perspective in a comical and ironical framework.

The coloration is similarly bright as the one described in Dine's painting, with very powerful colors and powerful contrasts. Again, in my opinion, this is used to give the painting a humoristic tone from the very beginning.

With Sally Mann and the Easter Dress (1986), we enter a very interesting component of modern art: photography. Photography moves somehow slightly away from the general perception on the concept of modern art and the representation of beauty. This is because photography, through its very nature, can only give a realistic representation of the element that is portrayed and, in this sense, the dialogue between the artist and the viewer is equally introspective (through the viewer's perception) and external, through the realistic depiction.

On the other hand, the Easter Dress implies an introspective analysis as well, because of the mystery associated with different elements. Despite the realistic perspective, the clouded sky with the light of the sun dimly appearing, the landscape itself and the character near the fence are all elements of mystery that attract… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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