So I can't help asking, "When did beauty fall by the wayside? Why is it egregious to find things beautiful?" Artwork in its many mediums, literature in its various forms, nature, people, animals, food, and any number of other items that register as beautiful to me also leave me feeling uplifted, fulfilled, or joyful. How did that become passé, even worthy of ridicule or scorn?
I'm not insulted when people say the work is decorative. I think it's a very valid kind of art. But the charge is superficial, because people are responding just to the superficiality of the color, not to the forms. You see, I feel that decorative art is never as vigorous as my work is, and it's never composed of big, jolting discontinuities. It never wants you to think how a piece is put together or why it was done in the first place. Decorative art is meant to be comforting. People may find joy in my stuff, but it's never comforting. It's never a nice, quiet background for a home. And there's the difference.
My Webster's dictionary defines beauty as "the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit." Maybe it's the word "pleasure" that has become offensive in relation to beauty. The wince, tension, horror, and disgust that might arise when a viewer confronts grime, grit, destructiveness, and outrage appear to be more favored. Art for its shock value? Ugliness for art's sake?
In The Nation (April 7, 1945), art critic Clement Greenberg touted Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) as the greatest painter since the Catalan artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) and commented that Pollock "is not afraid to look ugly" (he was not referring to his face or clothes). Greenberg's line that "all profoundly original art looks ugly at first" sums up the reaction we often have to new art that we find different from our usual aesthetic, perhaps jolting or disturbing, even incomprehensible.
How do you respond to beauty? How do you define "beauty"? What do you find beautiful?
What do you notice in yourself when you label something as ugly? What is it about the art that makes you react this way?
As an artist, what's your approach to beauty and so-called ugliness?