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Tuesday 08.23.11

« Two Worlds = Same Universe | Main | Last Thursday August 2011 »

Defending Beauty?

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago (photo Jeff Jahn)

Tomorrow at Place the latest Praxis salon discussion presents Jason Brown's Paper "In the Defense of Beauty: The Guise and The Intangible." Grant Hottle's paintings will be on display as well.

Beauty was a hot topic in the mid 90's when Dave Hickey challenged the decades long bias against it in contemporary art with his essay, The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty. It was essentially an all out and ultimately successful attack on a lot of French postmodernism theory that had metastasized into a kind of academic koan, one which treated visual pleasure as a kind of intellectual failing. What Hickey most effectively assaulted was the academic conceit rather than the theoreticians themselves and suddenly it was fine to make beautiful things again and craft suddenly stopped being a dirty word... not that Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons weren't already doing it and artists like Murakami, Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Josiah McElheny and Olafur Elliason eventually removed all doubt. Likewise, the resurgent interest in Ed Ruscha, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin and Judd ultimately solidified the argument that beautiful (or relentlessly visual/kinesthetic) work could be intellectually rigorous.

Overall, I'm interested in seeing where this discussion around Brown's paper hinges on and diverges from the art history of the past 20 years and hopefully some discussion of local examples will ensue (Storm Tharp, Jacqueline Ehlis (who studied with Hickey), Eva Speer, Arcy Douglass, Laura Highes, Jordan Tull, Laura Fritz, Midori Hirose, Adam Sorenson, the Appendix crew and James Lavadour are all germane). Lastly, does beauty still require defending and from whom?

Perhaps reading Arcy's essay from 2008 On Form (or from Polykleitos to Janine Antoni) might be helpful?

Place @ Pioneer Place
700 Sw Fith Ave. Third floor at settlement
August 24th
5:30 - 8:30PM

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 23, 2011 at 21:27 | Comments (5)


Or.. you could just go in with an open mind and see if the ideas make sense. Yeah, i could listen to Abbey Road before the new Dr. Dog album.. but why not just enjoy it?

Posted by: Christopher Buckingham [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2011 10:55 AM

"Lastly, does beauty still require defending..."

No. Beauty is -- like painting and representational art -- a perennial hardy enough to effortlessly survive any attempt -- however intellectually rigorous or fashionable -- to dismiss it.

"...and from whom?"

Adventurers who wandered away from the obvious and got lost.

Posted by: rosenak [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2011 06:08 PM

This is an interesting topic. Yes beauty and aesthetics must still be defended or it might wander into the territory of saying "art is everything or anything" which is dangerous. If art is everything then it is nothing. It has no independent definition. Ultimately it is a defense of truth.

@rosenak: Your last sentence is beautiful.

Posted by: Faure [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2011 01:02 PM

The paradox of everything and nothing is an interesting loop. However, it does seem more dangerous to start talking about what isn't art as opposed to anointing what is.

Art lies.
That is the truth.


Posted by: ST [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2011 01:08 PM

(@ST) We are definitely starting from different places. It seems there is two lines of thoughts about language. One popular one, right now, is to be very literal about “meaning”. With that, few things meet the requirements to hold their definitions. The other line of thought recognizes that meaning has always been fluid and that there is no reason to give up on categories. Language recognizes naturally occurring categories and simply gives them a name. A group of objects are recognized as similar, (exp. Flowers, subcategory Roses.) With categories there is variety. If everything is everything, it is all neutral grey.

Back to Art… I think Art holds it’s own definition. It is fluid because we are human. Does some art lie? Yes, some Artists are happy with creating the impression of success instead of true success. (But that sound very human too.) For me, Cult of personality art is very boring but the members of the Cult always look like they are having a good time.

Posted by: Faure [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2011 07:44 AM

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