Sunday, October 17, 2010

More Thoughts on Beauty

So I had some time to digest the Lecture on The Banishment of Beauty by Scott Burdick, and I've finally come to my own conclusions of exactly how his ideas have impacted me.

Beauty has, for the first time in my life, become a valid and extremely important thing to fight for.

One concept I spent a great deal of time pondering today is the idea that "beauty is simply truth" because that's the statement that caught my attention. Now I don't think Scott's intent was to define the universe or anything simply by saying that we'll find it if we focus on beauty. But he definitely piqued my interest in the subject.

You see, up until now, I have always devalued beauty. I defined it is as something that was, at best, simply nice to have but not essential. At worst, beauty was something completely superficial. This opinion made it hard for me to value my talents and to rectify within myself the strong desire to pursue art. It seemed so inconsequential in the long-term scheme of things. But this tie from beauty to truth made me take a second look at my opinions.

Although I still believe that beauty can be superficial and therefore distract us from ultimate Truth, here's where the light went on for me:

Beauty is not sufficient, alone, to lead us to absolute truth; but absolute truth is never found without beauty.

Therefore, beauty is valid. Beauty is important. Indeed, beauty is essential. And the part that I play as an artist who is doing my best to create beautiful images is, indeed, essential as well.

Beauty is worth fighting for in a world full of ugliness and I'm happy for the choice I've made to pursue it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Perspective

Ever had the experience--the Ah Ha moment--that completely changed your paradigm and subsequently your life?

I just had that today with regard to my purpose as an Artist after watching Scott Burdick's lecture on The Banishment of Beauty.

I am not exaggerating when I say this video completely changed me. In fact, it was only last post that I proclaimed my distaste for people's flowery, emotion-laden attachment to their art. And yet, here I am feeling suddenly like I am a crusader because I pursue Beauty in my art.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the film:

"there is no limit to the subjects and forms of aesthetic beauty. It can be seen in old faces, industry, and the most unexpected subjects imaginable – sometimes it is merely the play of light itself on a simple object. Tragedy, and even death, can be painfully beautiful subjects in the right hands. "

"It is not hard to make something ugly. Transcendent beauty, on the other hand, is a sparse commodity, something that helps make life bearable and spurs us on to heroic efforts to rise above the horrors of life. This is why beauty has been valued for all but the last century of the history of mankind."

"The beauty of love, of the sacrifice of a mother for their child, of the natural world and all its wonders of earth, sea, mountains, and wildlife, these are the things that inspire and remind us of what is worth fighting to preserve, be it another culture or our own humanity."

"The Impressionists were genius in showing the world a new form of aesthetic beauty, in both subject matter and technique. But this doesn’t mean that ever work that shocks will someday be called a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the lesson was the rebellion itself and soon the pattern of rejecting the past in ever shocking ways to make headlines would soon become the crucial goal. Eventually all that was left to rebel against was beauty itself, and modern art was truly born."

"Aesthetic beauty, while rare, is self evident."

“Beauty is a value as important as truth and goodness. I think we are losing beauty, and there is a danger that, with it, we will loose the meaning of life.” (from BBC Documentary titled "Why Beauty Matters" by Roger Scruton).

"I cannot count the times I’ve been asked in an interview, what 'message' I was trying to convey with my paintings. I’m sure every artist on the faculty here has gotten this question. When I honestly say that there is no message in the sense they are seeking, that painting is above all a visual language, and to translate the positive emotion that beauty can convey into words is impossible, I find these words used against me over and over. 'Traditional Realist painters admit it themselves – their paintings are meaningless, superficial depictions of beauty!'”

"Beauty is not useful in any material sense at all. Beauty is simply truth. The message of beauty is beauty. It is the ultimate circular argument, which is why you cannot argue it in words. It is a thing beyond us, a thing that hints at the divine."

Personally, I'm still digesting his whole message--even leaving room for some disagreement--but I know that something inside me was stirred deeply. And I know from past experiences that this stirring feeling means I'm on to something wonderful.

Thank you, Scott.