What makes something beautiful? I’m considering people, art, objects, ideas (anything really). Obviously we’ve all heard that “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” but how strongly does anyone believe this?

I remember seeing programs on tv that take a scientific approach to aesthetics. A beautiful face is symmetrical and has certain qualities supposedly. But it’s interesting that ‘attractive qualities’ change according to societies so for example, in African American culture fat thighs are seen as being sexy, at other times in history being fat was beautiful because it implied that you were well fed etc.

Art should be viewed entirely subjectively in my opinion but of course it isn’t. Critics tend to believe that they have the answers and can explain artistic beauty in intellectual terms. Can they?

Can physical beauty be entirely subjective? Obviously there is an element of personal taste involved but we’re hugely affected by the images we are bombarded with. Why would there be models unless there was a certain type that they fitted and which most people were attracted to? What about people who have ‘different taste’ ?

i tend to think of (artistic rather than personal) beauty in terms of the reaction it produces in the observer. when we encounter something beautiful (a sunset, a beautiful tune…) i think it is always accompanied by a feeling of kind of nostalgic sadness. maybe because that little piece of perfection which we are given with beauty shows up all the imperfections in our own lives. (btw anyone interested in ideas of beauty and sadness all mixed up should read “astonishing the gods” by ben okri)

for me analysing art is about trying to explain subjective impressions through objective means. i think that this should be possible because of the fact that our subjective experiences of art appear to be similar from person to person - so there should be some identificable (identifyable? what the hell is the word im looking for???)characteristic peculiar to the artwork itself which invokes the same reaction in different people.

however critics do seem to come up against a bit of a brick wall when trying to explain something that is simply beautiful. “how does this create tension?” or “how does the artist give an impression of impending doom?” is all very well, but “why is this beautiful?” seems to be a completely different ball-game!! normally i find people just resort to describing what they see/hear with the addition of appropriate adjectives describing the way they felt while listening (moving, awe-inspiring, peaceful, etc…) - which is not really explanation at all.

i think beauty is entirely subjective. sure we are influenced by culture, but that has always been the case as even when we were still monkeys our peers would have still exerted pressure on us. i don’t see anything wrong with culture picking a body type as desirable, it is merely natural selection working. about art? i find 99% of it crap and uninteresting, so there will be someone who can relate to it better.

Note to self:- learn not to post when stoned

[This message has been edited by macca (edited 27 January 2002).]

How nice … a topic about me. Heh. Completely agreeing with Macca on the art thing, I’m definitely too immature in some way to understand visual art at this point.

Scientists have actually found that certain things of “beauty” set off chemical reactions in our brains which release strong emotional hormones. For example, the tune of “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams. Although I suppose that leads to the question, WHY does it set off this reaction and furthermore, why doesn’t everyone react in the same way? (Not everyone likes that song).

I think beauty in people and beauty in art / music etc is completely unrelated. I don’t know much more than that, though.

I don’t think that beauty in art and in people are unrelated. It might seem like a stupid point but the fact that we use the same word for both implies that there is a relation. If certain pieces of art cause a chemical reaction in the brain or whatever, then maybe certain faces can do so to. Maybe these faces are different for different people (i.e subjective) and maybe this was why we first started talking about ‘chemistry’ between people. I.e. the person (appearance and character) creates a chemical reaction in you. I’m just wondering.

yet again, i’m going to parade my utter stupidity here by sticking to my limited sentence structure (quote, kelsted, 2001) and generally not say anything of any great depth or knowledge.

firstly, have you ever loved a woman, please forgive me (just that line ‘‘still feels like our first night together…’’) and heaven are more beautiful if we’re going for bryan songs.

secondly, i’m sorry ‘‘macca’’, but i’m not interested in whether or not you were stoned when you typed that. i really, really don’t care. at all.

the beauty thing … i don’t think you can try to define it. i think its entirely subjective and, like love, its just something which stands out to you. and it is different for different people. which explains why british model agencies are fascinated by oriental-ey faces, because they’re not what the majority of people in this country look like, so they’re interesting, they stand out. it just so happens that there’re some things a lot of people find beautiful.

which leads me onto another point. surely its more flattering if one person finds you absolutely stunning than if a lot of people do? because if loads of people find your face attractive, you’re just a common taste. its much better to be individually appealing. (just trying to justify my face … i’ll get me coat)

‘‘then one day you see something so beautiful you can almost not speak’’

defines beauty for me^^ (yes, i know i said it couldn’t be defined).

thats from process; a tomato project, published by thames and hudson.

hold on "clarice", lets look in the dictionary for 2 words, sarcasm and bourgeoisie.

Macca - I’d like to invite you to the perfect world of a Tiffin Girl - we don’t use dictionaries, we ARE them.

And it’s true, no-one cares how stoned you are. Perhaps mentioning it in passing is acceptable, but the fact that you mention it in every post is getting silly. Do I type “I’m respiring” at the end of every post? No. If smoking weed is such a way of life for you - which it clearly is, seeing as you’re so cool - don’t feel the need to mention it.

I’m not anti-draw, and in fact if it enhances your philosophical thinking then fab, but really, I’m just defending Clarice … because she has a fair point. Oh, and also she’s my lover. (Sorry Ben). And sorry Macca, because I’ve come across harsh there. I really was just defending old Claricio - sometimes one just has to.

thank you, nicky. macca … clarice is on my birth certificate, it doesn’t need inverted commas. thanks for the gesture.

and please point out what those two words have to do with anything. i don’t think you’ve made yourself very clear.

macca - id be very interested to know what comes in your 1% category of art you appreciate.

clarice - i think i’m with about the way people are attractive being a really individual thing. but in my experience when i find someone attractive in a way which seems to be really unconventional and specific, my friends tend to find that person attractive as well.

ok, two things i want to say,

modern/conceptual art is a complete farce. it is the biggest con since low fat sugar. I can cut animals up and pickle them, I can film myself waving my willy around (and i often do), I can lay 50 bricks in a row and I can paint a canvas blue. THAT IS NOT ART. I CANNOT recreate the sistinechapel ceiling, i simply do not have the talent.
THAT is the difference between REAL art and the wank that the media is trying to sell us these days.

Secondly, have you considered that sometimes you will see someone and REALLY fancy them but when you talk to them you go off them physically. And you can think nothing of someone until you get to know them and then you find them really attractive. Something to think about at least…

i was doing 2 things in editing that post, firstly just checking anybody actually re-reads posts, and secondly i was bored and just getting a rise out of you all, which you have to admit is quite funny, particularily, “Macca - I’d like to invite you to the perfect world of a Tiffin Girl - we don’t use dictionaries, we ARE them.” classic line, truely a classic. personally i’m supprised you haven’t jumped up with some sort of retort to the word bourgeoisie

chloe :- my 1% of art includes lots of things, sculpture, architecture and paintings, but very little of ‘modern’ art. i just don’t get Hurst’s stuff or the woman who made that bed thing, to me it isn’t art as it just seems tacky and cheap. i do like some modern art, but i think modern architecture is getting pretty good, aswell as the 70s/0s futuristic architechture. photography i think is a brilliant art form as anybody can take a wondeful photo, but not everyone can paint a wonderful picture.

i don't think art is about talent, it's about feeling and beauty etc, and to me that is talent. personally i can't paint a photorealistic painting but that doesn't mean i can't paint a beautiful picture. that is why photography is good, because even tho there are certain skills involved it comes down to just pushing a button in the end. but i do agree that modern art is crap, just because it is tacky and unappealing.

i totally agree with you, macca. photography is great because you can move somebody with the ‘‘beauty’’ of something that you’ve created, and its instant. i don’t agree that theres no talent involved, i think you need a skill to be able to take a good picture, ie. one which stands out from the rest because of its beauty/ability to evoke a reaction of some sort.

and i’m glad you’re humoured. and that you onlt said all of that to get a rise out of us. congratulations. very clever.

i meant there is less skill in taking a picture than painting the cistern (spelling) chapel, i don’t think that is a bad thing.

the other subject, i was bored and had nothing to do.

you really need skill to take a good photo… otherwise, well, all of mine wouldn’t come out underlit and out of focus!!


Clarice wrote:

The above last sentence is great. And to me is true! What is bueaty but symerty. That is what I think. It is subjective and that is what really sucks about it. A lot of us humans are so preoccupied into our image and all that effort is for nothing really.

nicola wrote:

whoa!!! Talk about drama!!

And the one that takes the cake is what Ben wrote:

To speak outside the scope of art I would like to talk about movies instead. And the same still holds true. Has anybody noticed that the recent motion pictures have been complete non-sense? It seems that the standard they had as writers went down in the past decades. The same has went for art the last, what, century?