First, thanks for the many replies
! I've been busy and haven't had the time to contribute to this as I’d planned.
While I’d like to respond to each post, time doesn’t let me do it. So instead I'll spare most and only comment on only a few.
RobC> As the author indicates, if you kill off beauty you fill the void with the cult of the ugly, the corrupt and the profane.
I enjoyed your post onto itself. It is an accurate and a good analogy of what has changed in ideal world of Playboy over the time. And it is a fair micro-cosim of the broader changes. This is also a very instructive place to view the advances of photographing women. There is a site somewhere in cyberspace
where one can see the centerfolds of each playboy. The site is instructive if only
for the changes it portrays.
LKaven> It seems that this author has overlooked the inherent existentialism in modernist art, that which helps to underwrite its humanistic nature. …
He didn’t over look it. He acknowledge it in the 3rd paragraph: “…from the writings of Georges Bataille….and Jean-Paul Sartre to the bleak emptiness of the nouveau roman.”
While existentialism is most definitely a part of life and by accounts has been so since the early 1800s (and by some acute observations there are roots to existentialism that date to the late 1400s), existentialism seeks to explain nature rather than to lead it. Indeed, Scruton takes a very Foucault-like approach to his article in his attempt to show the history of the silence regarding the slow death of beauty in art.
And that is where his thesis develops. Why should all elements of life be about apprehending one’s anxiety? Sooner or later everyone seeks a change of pace. Even Sartre points out that the inherent freedom of existentialism is a dilemma. The quandary is that given infinite freedom to make different choices, why do most people make the same choices over and over?
That said, yours was a very thought provoking comment!
Geoff Wittig > Modernism in art, as generally understood, sought to drop the sentimentality and ornament of Romanticism in favor of clearly communicated truths and the 'beauty of the thing itself'. In photographic terms the pictorialists were romantics, while the 'group f:64' were modernists. Edward Weston in his prime was a perfect example of high modernism—think 'pepper'. No sentiment or artifice, just the thing itself with its own intrinsic beauty.
Geoff Wittig > Katherine Thayer made precisely this point in her elegant essay in Lenswork #53. She notes that ironic, self-referential and intentionally unpleasant art has become such an accepted standard that pictorially beautiful, nature-inspired art is now subversive.
Got link? On the surface, this sounds to lean more to theatrics than analysis.
Taquin > This essay reminds me of the question of whether people attach less importance to beauty now than in the past.
I remember the Pearls Before Breakfast article. That was a topic about people’s sensitivity to music when removed from it’s traditional context. It was a result of that article that I bought my first Joshua Bell CDs. Which I'm pretty sure was the point of the exercise, at least it was for Mr. Bell. Anyway, the article wasn’t about the importance of beauty. It was about if anyone would notice it on while in a dingy walkway by on their hirried way to work. The answer, at least in DC, was an unequivocal NFW.
Ray> I get the impression that many of the points made in this article by Roger Scruton, lamenting an apparent desecration of beauty in much of modern art, could apply in almost any age. I get a sense here, amongst the flowery language and lofty ideals, of an older person complaining and decrying the fact that 'things are not what they used to be when I was young', as many old people tend to do.
An interesting and not unfair interpretation, even though it’s done in a bare fisted way. I agree it was a lament. But don’t think it is a suitable lament for the ages.
Ray, op cit)> But in general terms, I can say that operas tend to have silly and unrealistic plots. With drama in general (plays and novels), there's a certain capacity for 'suspension of disbelief' required from the audience. With opera, that capacity for suspension of disbelief needs to be very high. One of Mozart's most popular operas, if not the most popular, The Magic Flute, is totally silly. If it wasn't for the music, one might think one was watching an episode of Sesame Street.
Agreed. The tools used in opera (music, plot, dance) take the audience to a place where it’s easier to suspend disbelief. The audience wants this. That’s why most are there. Well that and the girls love it.
Geoff Wittig > I'm reminded of Tom Wolfe's eulogy for sculptor Frederick Hart, in which he describes the withering contempt for Hart's work in the trendy world of high art. Hart was enormously skilled at the craft of sculpting the human form from life, but was dismissed by the arbiters of taste busily promoting Jeff Koons' ceramic kitsch.
Which hints at the pressures placed upon people to conform. In turn, this says what about existentialism and freedom?
RSL > …but I’m sorry Scruton didn’t include something about the damage being done to art by politics, which, when included in any attempt at art, is always terminal.
I think I understand what you are getting at but disagree. Historically nearly all successful artists are supported by the politics of the time. Would the Italian Renaissance had been the same had not Christianity played a dominant role in the politics of the time? Was there ever a time when art didn’t serve someone’s social agenda? Even traditionally beauty is to a large degree about conformity with someone else’s perceptions.
Put in a different light, I've been researching how to get some of my fotos into galleries in 2 different states. Interestingly and of note, most of the opportunities I've come across for emerging artists are sponsored by the state….