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Beauty Taste and the Sublime - Essay Example

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Beauty has evolved into a freedom for expression. Contemporary art, especially questions the paradigms (fixed standards and canonical/classical examples) for judging aesthetic values (art that has a "moral" and ethical message and that is pleasing to the senses), with artists like Chapman Brothers or Justin Novak producing artwork that are clearly meant to provoke reactions and challenge notions of beauty, that had it's roots in Kant's "Critique of Judgment" (1790). It contemplated on the "pure" aesthetic experience of art consisting of a "disinterested" observer, pleasing for its own sake and beyond any utility or morality. Now, the very word 'pleasing' may have different boundaries and contemporary art is trying to escalate their claims. If Marcel Duchamp made a fountain out of a urinal in 1917, that hurtled the Dadaist movement and that later amplified into a surrealist tendency (where artistic expressions concentrated on revealing the amoral (un) consciousness of man/woman) thereby looking into primitive art for such unconventional (or grotesque) subconscious inspiration, to help reveal the complex mental process, then the essential motivation behind the whole thing was subversion or countering basic notions of the human mind, and experiences. It became imperative for artists to reveal truth in a very graphic and straightforward fashion, and that was to become the fractured beauty of later avant-garde arts.

If primitivism was motivating a new dimension by which beauty of the mind was revealed, then Picasso completely subjectified art and personal experience into a fourth dimension and created a cubist movement to claim a break down of a canon that no longer held on to techniques, symbols and least of all - universal criteria for judging the value or end of art. There are many socio-ideological forces behind the same and the destructive World Wars had many reasons to question the notions behind the traditional idea of Beauty, and it addressed the subjective, transcendental and alienated psyche of modern man and art became a pursuit of revealing the mysteries of the mind that was not always beautiful. Metaphysical hopelessness (with questions about the existence of God, and the pain of the war) gave way from beauty to absurdity, while the meaninglessness of man/woman's 'Being', made beauty dissolve into grotesqueness, either by derision or by the light of their tragic truth. Beauty vanished from the expressions of art, at least the classical expressions of it, but was re-born with a new makeover: grotesque beauty.

What makes the question more intriguing is that, whether contemporary art has found a better form of beauty (constructed to please and create a certain discursive paradigm) in the grotesque, since it frees us from any moral ...Show more


This very famous statement on Beauty and Truth and their interchangeability poses a very important question in the postmodern era. Art and its convention of the 'Beauty'/'Beautiful' has imperceptibly changed over the decades, from something that should reflect the Ideal (and in reality, twice removed from it, as per Plato, 360 B.C)2, or in essence complete and offering pleasure to the senses to something, that expresses the unique consciousness/angst of the creator…
Author : rosario40
Beauty Taste and the Sublime
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