Key Concepts 7: Beauty


Richard Write ‘No title’ 2009image005.jpgThis beautiful gold-leaf pattern was applied directly to the wall, and was therefore temporary. After the show it was cleaned off and painted over. There is not only beauty in the visual appearance of this work, but also in the temporary nature of it.

‘Beauty’ is an abstract concept. We say something is beautiful, but it is impossible to say what beauty consists of.

Art is considered superior to decoration.

Beauty = superficial

Damian Hirst ‘Beautiful, Leeds United 3-0 If It’s Gotta Hole In It Painting (the Vortex of Youth)’ 1999DHS4811t_771_0.jpg

Beauty = Kitsch 

Jeff Koons ‘A Large Vase of Flowers’ 1991koons25.jpg

Beauty = Seduction 

Ai Weiwei ‘Straight’ 2008-1211-CF020990.jpg

Beauty = Deception

Andre Masson ‘The Kill’ 1944tumblr_nu4sn8ndkn1s7wovzo1_1280.jpg

Beauty = cover for political manipulation 

Igor Babailov ‘George W Bush’ 2002 igor_v_babailov_001_portrait_of_president_george_w_bush.jpg

Is beauty objective or subjective?

Objective = the beautiful element should be able to be identified and isolated.

Subjective = the nature of the object is irrelevant.

Is it possible to identify an objective standard of what’s beautiful?

Immanuel Kant ‘Critique of Judgement’ (book) 1790

He said ‘beauty is a form of liking’. Are all forms of liking the same?

  • Types of liking according to Kant:
    • 1) The Agreeable
      • desire
      • subjective
      • private
    • 2) The Good
      • reason
      • universal
      • public
    • 3) The Beautiful
      • not governed by desire or reason
      • universally subjective

Can you like something without desire or reason?

Disinterestedness: We do not look at art in the same way we look at the world.

  • Whats the difference between natural beauty and beauty in art?
    • In the natural world flowers have a function – pollination. But beauty is not in its function.
    • A painting of a flower has no purpose. There is beauty in this new world the artist has created.
  • Kant: ‘critique of judgement’ (p.166)
    • ‘The value of natural beauty lies in our ability to find the form of new solutions of human problems.’
    • ‘The beauty in nature is something we want to emulate inner own lives.’


Relevance to my practice: 

This lecture has influenced my practice because one of the main reasons I have been interested in pursuing minimalism is because I personally find the aesthetic very pleasing. I find it very interesting how everyone has an aesthetic or style that just appeals to them. My hope is that in exploring minimalism further I may begin to be able to discover and better articulate why I find it so beautiful. In addition I want others to see the beauty in the materials and textures. This lecture helped be begin to understand beauty in art.



Author: Crisiant Williams

I am a Fine Art student, studying at Cardiff School of Art and Design.

One thought on “Key Concepts 7: Beauty”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s