Wednesday, May 5, 2010

OPINION: Beauty in Art

This is our first response to Theodore Hoppe's opinion piece, posted on May 2. We encourage readers to think about it, do a bit of writing, and send us YOUR perspective!

By Stephen Orloske

I don't apprehend what you'd like to discuss about Beauty. I'll assume we can forgo diatribes about the Golden ratio and comparing our Top 10. If it's a definition you're fishing for then I provide this:

The Anatomy of Melancholy states, "Beauty is the common object of all love," and that's the most concise definition I know of. Beauty is not an inherent quality but rather a result of love. It might be helpful to think of beauty's vulgar cousin money. Money is a result of economy and when we try to envision the "monetary value" of anyone we shudder because, well, it is rather disgusting, yet attempt to envision Beauty in anyone and then you are in a noble pursuit, because that is really an attempt to find love and if you succeed then you actually make Beauty.

The book also recounts an anecdote of a queen who saw "one of the king's chaplains, a silly, old, hard-favored man, fast asleep in a bower, and kissed him sweetly; when the young ladies laughed at her for it, she replied, that it was not his person that she did embrace and reverence, but, with a Platonic love, the divine beauty of his soul." It is a mistake when you say "perhaps in most cases, the fantasy we are chasing is Beauty.” Because it is never, in fact, the case that an artist's fantasy chases Beauty (those are the fantasies of marketers), rather an artist is like the queen, attempting to make contact with the “soul,” with a loving relationship for the totality of a subject, with the reality within it that eludes human comprehension, rather than the appearance (which is oh so comprehendible), and Beauty is a result of that attempt.