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ablarc
February 1st, 2008, 08:22 PM
BEAUTY AND THE BEHOLDER'S EYE


I think the larger point here is that aesthetics ... comes down to a matter of opinion.

Two folks I know have told me they don't like Beethoven: Mike and Frank.

Mike once steeped me in the murky, epic wonders of the Hammerklavier Sonata --before he decided Ludwig and all his successors sucked. Music, he declared, had ended with Haydn.

His complaint was that after a youth spent as Mozart in drag --the Opus 18 quartets and the first two piano concertos-- Beethoven shucked his early work's aristocratic, refined, Rococo scintillation for the heavy stuff we mostly now link to the great Ludwig --thus launching two centuries of ponderous weltschmerz via Brahms through Mahler eventually to Schoenberg.

This is an odd complaint to come from Mike, some members of whose family survived the Holocaust; his social views resemble Trotsky's, and he manages a homeless shelter.

Frank is a client who develops strip malls. When he comes to my office, he says, "I don't know how you can stand to listen to that crap." He means not just Beethoven but all the others as well.

I can tell you which one says the quality of an artwork is a matter of personal opinion.

.

pianoman11686
February 2nd, 2008, 02:37 AM
Interesting post. On a topic that's very near and dear to me.

Curiously enough, I debated a few of my friends a while back about what actually constitutes music. I had one fellow adamantly argue that John Cage's 4'33 is every bit as much music as anything by Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven. Naturally, I was taken aback. I have a very traditional upbringing in music, mainly classical. (Ironically, I find Haydn to be awfully dry.) For me, when "music" either ceases to be an expression of the composer, or becomes a laboratory through which one experiments with sound, it loses its soul. John Cage composed silence, not music. And Schoenberg composed noise.

While beauty is, to a large extent, in the eye of the beholder, one should only opine if given the opportunity to become well-informed. It is not true that all opinions have equal merit: there are the educated, and the uneducated. Lest we all retreat into a world of existential charlatanism, where everything is nothing, - and nothing, everything - we will always need, and have, people who know what they're talking about when they critique beauty. I think they're called "experts."

ablarc
February 2nd, 2008, 09:49 AM
^ Who will save us from the experts?

infoshare
February 2nd, 2008, 11:59 AM
BEAUTY AND THE BEHOLDER'S EYE



Two folks I know have told me they don't like Beethoven: Mike and Frank.

I can tell you which one says the quality of an artwork is a matter of personal opinion.

.

Yes, I agree ,,,,, Mikes' opinion is an expert/informed opinion: and therefore a better opinion.

As I said: it all comes down down to a matter of personal opinion. So, when you have two differing EXPERT/INFORMED opinions: they are both right.
AS you said - the larger question may be "who is going to save us from the EXPERTS"

P.S. I too find "Hyden to be awfully dry" so I do not think we are All in disagreement here. :confused:

Capn_Birdseye
February 2nd, 2008, 01:56 PM
Good music is in the ear of the listener.

ZippyTheChimp
February 2nd, 2008, 05:32 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-u3uYmSpkg

ablarc
February 2nd, 2008, 08:13 PM
Art just isn't that important. It's much of what we talk about on this forum. We should learn to just let go. Then we could talk about important things.

Jasonik
February 2nd, 2008, 08:31 PM
“Wherever art appears, life disappears.”- Robert Motherwell (http://collections.dallasmuseumofart.org/code/emuseum.asp?style=Text&currentrecord=1&page=search&profile=objects&searchdesc=People%20contains%20Motherwell&searchstring=People/,/contains/,/Motherwell/,/0/,/0&newvalues=1&newstyle=single&newcurrentrecord=2)

pianoman11686
February 3rd, 2008, 02:12 AM
Pianoman's opinion reminds me of Cosmopolitan Magazine's telling their readers which male celebrities are handsome and which are not.

Huh?

pianoman11686
February 4th, 2008, 09:17 PM
In case it was missed, that last sentence was said somewhat tongue-in-cheek (hence the quotes).

I don't think we need experts to judge all beauty. Right or wrong, I do think they serve a useful purpose. They provide a starting point from which to engage in debate. They're also best positioned to provide laypeople with concise summaries that lay out the most important arguments.

That's really my point - that you need to have some kind of reference point to judge works of art. There are visceral reactions, to be sure - but there's more to art than just gut feelings. There's critical thinking involved.

Finding someone physically attractive is a whole other story. A human body is not man's creation (except in some very rare, and disturbing, circumstances). And attraction is a physiological phenomenon - not at all comparable to the act of listening to music, or studying a painting. For quick proof, consider why none of Picasso's, Ingres', or Degas' nudes are considered pornography.

ablarc
February 4th, 2008, 10:09 PM
That's really my point - that you need to have some kind of reference point to judge works of art. There are visceral reactions, to be sure - but there's more to art than just gut feelings. There's critical thinking involved.

Finding someone physically attractive is a whole other story. A human body is not man's creation (except in some very rare, and disturbing, circumstances). And attraction is a physiological phenomenon - not at all comparable to the act of listening to music, or studying a painting. For quick proof, consider why none of Picasso's, Ingres', or Degas' nudes are considered pornography.
Well put and true.

infoshare
February 4th, 2008, 11:36 PM
So, in conclusion to the anecdote (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=212969&postcount=1) about Mike & Frank. I would not say Mike 'can not tell' the music of Haydn is "awfully dry": only that the opinion of pianoman (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=212989&postcount=2) (and friends) are contrary to his opinion about Haydn. If someone said to me that 2 plus 2 equals 5 or the earth is flat; that I would say is contrary to the facts. If someone said to me that Haydn is a better musician than Mosart; that I would say is contrary to my opinion.


So to bring the issue home to WiredNY, when someone states that a particular building is a great architectural design or beautiful, it can not be be said (technically speaking) that they are WRONG. Their expressed opinion may be uninformed/uneducated: but never wrong. Statements about Art/Aesthetics are not something that can be either true or false: they all come down to a matter of personal opinion.

This topic is not as trivial and/or obvious as it may seem: I am glad it was raised because WNY primarily involves discussions about Art/Architecture.

cheers

Ninjahedge
February 5th, 2008, 02:36 PM
The thing that gets me is when people decide on when an aesthetic art form is "better" or "worse" than anothers representation in that art form.

There is a certain limit to where this can be taken, and we, as an anal retentive society of pin-counters, will comment on how the outside of the skate of teh lead skater was not on the ice at the start of the triple axle and therefore should be deducted 0.05 points on the routine.

Saying whether something is good bad, great or awful is one thing, but to try to categorize AND quantify things like music, art, dance and similar things always gets me irked. But we need to compete in everything, including "art" and "beauty".



As for music, that gets difficult. One can appreciate things that someone does to try and express one thing or another, but the sound of grinding metal and pounting base may not be a very accurate or notable way to emote "angst" to the listener. Yes, it works, but it is as subtle and tallented as making someone feel "pain" by hitting them with a hammer.


The hardest is when it comes to different music forms. Things like Rap being the hardest (which was discussed here in ways that people almost got to blows about). While some (me) believe it to be more of a linguistic expression, like poetry, verse or chant, others classify it as music. But even within the different classifications, you still get "good rap" and "bad rap".

You have rap that is more concerned with the bottom line dollar or other fringe benefits that it would bring in. You have others that are as subtle as looking at the Mona Lisa, and being pummeled with it repeatedly. But then there are some that, if really understood, emote the situation to someone who may or may not be familiar with it. It communicates and requires you to do more than recite lyrics that would draw stunned silence from a church or other group.

These guys are not relying on hammers to pound you, but hopefully to make something out of the raw material they have that would not only express what they wanted you to experience, but FIT you when they gave it to you.

But that is another story.


Bottom line is, Art is a general subject. As soon as you start drawing lines around it, you realize it is something that has no set shape or form and your drawing ends up nothing more than a scribble on the floor.


Which, ironically, defines art better than anything else we could probably think of. ;)

infoshare
February 5th, 2008, 07:32 PM
The irony here is that Mike - "whose family survived the holocaust" - sounds a bit like the ART NAZI (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=213064&postcount=7) in the video. BTW, that youtube video helped to frame (no pun intended) the issue perfectly. I guess the question now is - who is going to save us from the ART NAZIES :D

Luca
February 6th, 2008, 09:13 AM
This curious ‘modern’ respect of subjectivity is an offshoot of the romanticist cult of originality. It is born out of the confusion between the Judeo-Christian faith in the universality of human worth and universality of the worth of human experience/actions.

Aesthetic preferences are subjective; that’s almost axiomatic. But the statistical distribution of subjective preferences and their time variance are demonstrably objective, however.

There is also the issue of “survey response to self-image” vs. instinctive responses (which arguably reflect subjective taste more faithfully).

If someone’s response to an aesthetic critique is that “it’s a matter of taste / it’s subjective” it tells me that they have little to say on the subject, typically because they have no interest in it.

In relation to architecture, concepts like relief of mass, readability and orderliness of design, illumination/fenestration, balance of solids/spaces are hardly subjective.

Ninjahedge
February 6th, 2008, 09:56 AM
This curious ‘modern’ respect of subjectivity is an offshoot of the romanticist cult of originality. It is born out of the confusion between the Judeo-Christian faith in the universality of human worth and universality of the worth of human experience/actions.

Aesthetic preferences are subjective; that’s almost axiomatic. But the statistical distribution of subjective preferences and their time variance are demonstrably objective, however.

There is also the issue of “survey response to self-image” vs. instinctive responses (which arguably reflect subjective taste more faithfully).

If someone’s response to an aesthetic critique is that “it’s a matter of taste / it’s subjective” it tells me that they have little to say on the subject, typically because they have no interest in it.

In relation to architecture, concepts like relief of mass, readability and orderliness of design, illumination/fenestration, balance of solids/spaces are hardly subjective.

They are not, but the overall balance is.

I cannot stand some architectural works that have been lauded by ithers as progressive and highly meritous.

Certain play of form can be eye catching, but others are somply an exercise in deliberat shucking of the status quo. The Ghery R&R HOF is one classic example where one view will give you an interesting interplay of shapes and textures, but most of it is simply twisted metal sheeting housing a lot of dead airspace due to topographical impracticality.


My point on the matter is that things can be put into broader categories. A bad singer is just that. Bad. A great singer is grudgingly accepted by all as being so, but ranling them any further (as my figure skating example illustrates) gets too caought up on manufactured technicalities rather than the root of the issue.

And the more abstract the art, the harder it egts to rate and rank.

Example. Mona Lisa beats Elephant Dung Madonna (hands down), but what about compared to the Sistine Chapel? What about comparing it to Mozart? Wright? Chauser?

The point being that it is harder to categorze and quantify artistic merits beyond certain general levels. You do and all you end up getting is opinion, or a set of rules that was set up by a bunch of other peoples opinions.

Luca
February 7th, 2008, 02:48 AM
If what you are saying is that there is no objective way to, say, rank the top 20 renaissance paintings in strict heirarchical order then, yes, I agree.

My point (and that of toehrs) is to disagree with thsoe wo would advocate that the "Elephant Dung" Madonna is only subjectively inferior to Piero Della Francesca's efforts.

Or that it's a matter of personal taste whether the US Customs House in NYC is a better building than Madison Square Garden (the current one).

Ninjahedge
February 7th, 2008, 09:59 AM
If what you are saying is that there is no objective way to, say, rank the top 20 renaissance paintings in strict heirarchical order then, yes, I agree.

My point (and that of toehrs) is to disagree with thsoe wo would advocate that the "Elephant Dung" Madonna is only subjectively inferior to Piero Della Francesca's efforts.

Or that it's a matter of personal taste whether the US Customs House in NYC is a better building than Madison Square Garden (the current one).

Then we agree, although the gross differences and categorization of the examples we have both brought forward are the easiest to seperate..... ;)

ablarc
May 3rd, 2008, 11:00 AM
If someone’s response to an aesthetic critique is that “it’s a matter of taste / it’s subjective” it tells me that they have little to say on the subject, typically because they have no interest in it.
... and if no interest, typically ... no knowledge.

MidtownGuy
May 3rd, 2008, 12:01 PM
the "Elephant Dung" Madonna is only subjectively inferior to Piero Della Francesca's efforts.

IMO Ofili's Madonna is every bit as accomplished as that of Della Francesca.
Not inferior, perhaps superior! The concept, colors, layering of paint, all the technique that went into that painting are marvelous. It must be seen in person for anyone who is making judgements based on photos or the news.

ablarc
May 3rd, 2008, 01:24 PM
^ Well at least that's an informed and professional declaration; no "matter of opinion, eye of the beholder" obfuscation here.

Something substantive to agree or disagree with, not just fluff.

ablarc
May 3rd, 2008, 08:22 PM
IMO Ofili's Madonna is every bit as accomplished as that of Della Francesca.
Not inferior, perhaps superior! The concept, colors, layering of paint, all the technique that went into that painting are marvelous.
Does it have legs as a concept? Will it last as an object?

Jasonik
May 4th, 2008, 11:11 AM
Doubtless it will endure as an important work -- a significant cultural artifact.

The artistry gave the piece a chance to be considered, but society (Giuliani et. al.) made it important.

This is an aspect of art that is difficult to project into the future, the way it interacted with the culture at the moment of its creation, - the nuanced challenging of accepted norms it embodies. Because of my age I'll never fully understand the impact of Warhol's soup cans, -- the deeply zeitgeist-dependent quality that conferred importance, not to mention Marcel Duchamp or Hieronymus Bosch.

I fear I've gone afield of the beauty aspect of the topic. I guess I see beauty as irrelevant to art, unless the goal of the specific artwork is to communicate beauty as one of its aims. Of course that admittedly assumes a very limited scope of beauty. As someone who has studied engineering, architecture, sculpture and the attendant histories, and one who endeavors to cultivate my inner aesthete, I've developed an appreciation that there is beauty in pithy elegant simplicity, that there is beauty in a cogent ringing exclamation, and that there is beauty in a learned and multifaceted response that engages the continuum of works preceding it.

To limit one's definition of beauty is to effectively abandon any hope of expanding one's understanding. The search for, and the finding of beauty is in the truest sense the search for understanding. When I am communing with a work of architecture or sculpture or painting, I am opening myself up to receive the understanding the artist embodied in the piece. To become aware of the governing principles, the color, texture, and mood, the symbolic and historical allusions, the playful and clever departure from expectations, even the glaring naivete of the maker, or more frequently myself. To share twenty minutes with a great work is to converse with a sage where one finds answers in questions whose very asking reveal timeless human truths.

Luca
May 6th, 2008, 10:23 AM
IMO Ofili's Madonna is every bit as accomplished as that of Della Francesca.

Not inferior, perhaps superior! The concept, colors, layering of paint, all the technique that went into that painting are marvelous. It must be seen in person for anyone who is making judgments based on photos or the news.



I've not seen that specific painting, but I have seen some of his other 'Pachyderm Turd' oeuvre...


There is clearly an artistic intention and perhaps sentiment there. I honestly cannot see how one can compare it, in terms of perfection of technique with renaissance painting or, say, Victorian academic painting. I think on that we disagree fundamentally, irresolvably.

I am also struck (negatively) by the messages (some explicit and personal, some implicit and outside his control) that Ofili is sending by incorporating excrement in a piece of art, let alone one portraying an object of veneration by many.


Ofili has an interesting, if self-consciously naif, mastery of color. His composition, subject and rendering are, again, either unskilled (unlikely) or self-consciously "not academic" (we cannot really regard any representative art of any sort as 'avant garde' at this point in history, I think you will agree).

On the "personal viewing" point. On one level I would have to agree. On another, given what art is or purports to be, I think that we have to be careful here. Would you say that you cannot express an opinion about cheap romance novels unless you have read a representative sample (say 100-200 of them)? Or can you have an educated opinion on them anyhow?

Going back to the original question of ‘beauty in the eye of the beholder’, I suppose there is an element of individual elf-definition of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ that mediates between the art and the viewer’s value-assignation.

1. Instinctual response. You like it or not, before nay explanations, ideological filters, etc. (I think for people who are ‘into’ art this may be nearly impossible. I do try.)

2. Art as a 'mass' message. This is the way I would mostly look at art (when I say old-fashioned things like ‘composition, color, rendering, etc.): Namely: what does it transmit to an average viewer who comes into contact with it with minimal mediation and how well, how gracefully/artistically does it transmit it.

3. Art as a dialogue between the artist and the viewer (requiring explanation, in-depth knowledge, etc.) i.e, art as connoisership, etc. I have very, very, very limited interest in this. Just personally. Most artists I’ve known are intellectually deeply uninteresting, shallow, romanticist, self-absorbed, childish people. I’d rather have a ‘conversation’ with a typical housewife, cop or financier. I fell I learn more. Like the romance novels, I don’t have time to ‘get to know’ thousands of artists in case one or two don’t come across as complete oxygen thieves.

MidtownGuy
May 6th, 2008, 06:30 PM
I have to disagree with so much of what you said. I don't know where to begin so I will just say, to each his own... The fact that you mentioned the inclusion of excrement, seeming to suggest that it is somehow less valid than tempera or oil as a medium of religious or artistic expression, is telling me you relate mostly to traditional European ideas, and that is natural since you are European. We will have to disagree, but the painting is taller than I am, and if you've only seen it as a jpeg then I can't discuss this with you.
I don't understand your criticism of his colors as being "an interesting, if self-consciously naif, mastery of color."

about:
You like it or not, before any explanations, ideological filters, etc. (I think for people who are ‘into’ art this may be nearly impossible. I do try.)

Cast aside all that baggage. Catholic, racist, whatever. Opens up a lot more art to appreciation.
Anyway, people "into" art are as bad as people "into" wine, with their precious attempts at explaining or verbalizing something less exact than words. Just enjoy it. Or just hate it. Talking about the nutty notes of lavender and undertones of leather with crossnotes of blah blah blah is just rubbish after a while.

"Renaissance painting or, say, Victorian academic painting" is OK, but it's not inherently better than any other style, even one that includes turds.

MidtownGuy
May 6th, 2008, 07:04 PM
Does it have legs as a concept?
It has a concept as legs. The painting is supported on 2 balls of dung.

MidtownGuy
May 6th, 2008, 07:07 PM
I am also struck (negatively) by the messages (some explicit and personal, some implicit and outside his control) that Ofili is sending by incorporating excrement in a piece of art,

The messages he is sending are of fertility and renewal. How is that negative?

Jasonik
May 6th, 2008, 07:14 PM
http://bp3.blogger.com/_6E4ilQVRqHA/R0x3G1_-4mI/AAAAAAAAADQ/fddKikXdKxc/s400/lolofili.jpg

infoshare
May 6th, 2008, 08:53 PM
Going back to the original question of ‘beauty in the eye of the beholder’, I suppose there is an element of individual self-definition of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ that mediates between the art and the viewer’s value-assignation.

1. Instinctual response. You like it or not, before nay explanations, ideological filters, etc. (I think for people who are ‘into’ art this may be nearly impossible. I do try.)

2. Art as a 'mass' message. This is the way I would mostly look at art (when I say old-fashioned things like ‘composition, color, rendering, etc.): Namely: what does it transmit to an average viewer who comes into contact with it with minimal mediation and how well, how gracefully/artistically does it transmit it.

3. Art as a dialogue between the artist and the viewer (requiring explanation, in-depth knowledge, etc.) i.e, art as connoisership, etc. I have very, very, very limited interest in this. Just personally. Most artists I’ve known are intellectually deeply uninteresting, shallow, romanticist, self-absorbed, childish people. I’d rather have a ‘conversation’ with a typical housewife, cop or financier. I fell I learn more. Like the romance novels, I don’t have time to ‘get to know’ thousands of artists in case one or two don’t come across as complete oxygen thieves.

What you seem to be saying here is that 'beauty is (to some extent) in the eye of the beholder'. However, your just saying it with greater nuance and linguistic rigor than the more blunt "matter of opinion" remark.

And here, again, you provide a good description of what I intend to convey when I refer to 'eye of the beholder' or 'matter of opinion' - QUOTE (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=213853&postcount=17); "If what you are saying is that there is no objective way to, say, rank the top 20 renaissance paintings in strict heirarchical order then, yes, I agree."

So, in effect, my original point as to beauty being (at least to some extent) in the eye of the beholder, is correct: that is, if I am not misunderstanding your comments. Either way, thanks for a great read.

Luca
May 7th, 2008, 02:21 AM
I have to disagree with so much of what you said. I don't know where to begin so I will just say, to each his own…

Yes. I think it’s one of those cases where the very definitions/value systems are too clearly contradictory for one to ever ‘convince’ the other. I hpe my explanation didn’t bore you/other; they were aimed at describing the thought process, not at convincing anyone that it’s right.


The fact that you mentioned the inclusion of excrement, seeming to suggest that it is somehow less valid than tempera or oil as a medium of religious or artistic expression, is telling me you relate mostly to traditional European ideas

:)

The fact that you mention ‘traditional European ideas’ suggests to me you take a deconstructivist view of this (and other?) issues. For what it’s worth, I think deconstructivism is to reason/intellect what cholera is to the digestive system.


I don't understand your criticism of his colors as being "an interesting, if self-consciously naif, mastery of color."

I mean that, in the paintings I have seen close-up, his use of color looks primitive. Since he is as well-aware of artistic precedents as anyone, I have to assume that he’s doing the sort of self-conscious naďf “inspiration drawing” as was popular about 7-80 years ago in ‘modern’ art (Picasso, the Fauves, that sort of thing).
It’s not a displeasing effect; I like primitive art. I just think it can get a bit “precious” when it’s done self-consciously.


Anyway, people "into" art are as bad as people "into" wine, with their precious attempts at explaining or verbalizing something less exact than words. Just enjoy it. Or just hate it. Talking about the nutty notes of lavender and undertones of leather with crossnotes of blah blah blah is just rubbish after a while.

You’ve got me confused here. Are you saying there is no room for expertise in art appreciation and criticism? My point was that people who actually make a point of going to see art, read about art and generally have more than a passing interest are a bit like someone who reads the papers and follows world events: it’s difficult to address any new item with a complete blank mind. But I agree it would be a good idea.

Ninjahedge
May 7th, 2008, 01:08 PM
It is a poorly rendered picture.

An attempt by someone to put too much meaning into something that needed to be explained before people took offense.

Crude, simplistic, and about as meaningful as a high school art project.

Bad? Nah. Great? Definitely not.

When you have to go to so much effort to explain every little bit that went into a picture, and it still seems like a forced conglomeration of discordant elements whose main intent was to incite dissent over what the artist wanted them to be rather than what they actually appear to be, then it does indeed have a message. But it has as much merit as actually coming out and saying the same thing.

This is where it gets difficult. Messages are important, but we do not, for the most part, hang up canvases covered in text and call them the same thing. Art has a higher standard to live up to and needs to honor that standard. When you get a plain picture whose only memorable element was that it was covered in dung




Brown may be the color of the earth, the solid foundation that we all stand apon and gain our substance from.

Blue may represent the color of the sky and the heavens that surround us.

The two may personify the earth and all that is in it. But they make lousy colors for a track jacket.

Props to my Alma Mater! ;)

MidtownGuy
May 7th, 2008, 09:45 PM
You’ve got me confused here. Are you saying there is no room for expertise in art appreciation and criticism?

No. I'm saying, I prefer to let art communicate wordlessly without all the BS and editorializing. Why translate a poem into prose?
The tiresome analyzing, the self-important gatekeepers, I have no regard for any of it.
What is "expertise" in this area, if we are saying that beauty is in the "eye of the beholder"? If being an art "expert" means the person can describe historic movements, relate a piece to other works, or whatever else they do besides actually create art, then fine. There is room for intellectual analysis of anything, I agree. I just think people give these "experts" too much credit. In some sense, it might be argued that the only real "experts" in a gallery are those whose work is being shown.
If by art "experts" we mean that they can spot a trend, guage the market,
sign a check, then in my eyes they are experts of merchandising and markets, not experts on what is valid or beautiful as art for art's sake.
No one is an expert of that. An informed opinion, maybe. I think a lot of art "criticism" is a lot of hot air, just like people sipping wine and trying to verbalize infinitely nuanced flavors that would be better left to the taste buds than to the voice.


My point was that people who actually make a point of going to see art, read about art and generally have more than a passing interest are a bit like someone who reads the papers and follows world events: it’s difficult to address any new item with a complete blank mind.

In both cases, I don't think a blank mind is what needed, so much as an open mind.;)


ninjahedge
It is a poorly rendered picture....Crude, simplistic, and about as meaningful as a high school art project.

That's your opinion. I won't tell you what to like. I will say that you never saw the art except as a jpeg, that much is certain.
When I saw this painting I was most pleased by the endless layering of translucent color and irridescence washed into the painting with many techniques, including collage and some kind of "sparkly" stuff, for lack of a better word. It was quite beautiful, and unique. Of course, you see none of that in a jpeg.
I wouldn't have to know a single thing about African symbology to find the painting beautiful when standing in it's presence. It was dynamic, radiant, absorbing, and drew me in. It challenged me. I will admit as a jpeg it is hard to understand or appreciate. You can't even see what the details are.
Anyway, my impression was of a loving, affectionate portrayal of the Madonna as both human and divine. If someone didn't tell you the balls were made of dung, you probably wouldn't even know. They were preserved, shiny, and roundly sculptural, and dung happens to be a common part of African life used for a lot of things. Even the ancient Egyptians considered dung sacred and it was featured in their religious stories. It isn't gross or derogatory. At the time of the controversy when the Brooklyn Museum had it as part of the Sensation exhibit, I remember hearing breathless descriptions of a "dung smeared" madonna:rolleyes: The dung was carefully and thoughtfully formed and placed, hardly "smeared" or "thrown" like the (rag) Post described.
But whatever, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as in the title of this thread. Yet, saying it is as meaningful as a high school art project when you haven't stood in front of it is...what it is.
"Poorly rendered"? Like hell. It was meticulously and beautifully rendered. When you stand in front of it you can't even describe all of the shimmery richness, combined with that composition, it reminded me of a Byzantine icon painting. Now I don't want to sound like one of those windbag art "critics", and I'm not claiming authority..I 'm just giving you my personal impressions which are admittedly of no more value than yours. I'm just asking that those of you who are so contemptuous about this painting not be so convinced until you see it one day.
Not even the colors are accurately conveyed in the unfortunate jpeg...I'm not sure they ever could be, with all of the complicated color washes and media that Ofili used.

ablarc
May 8th, 2008, 06:42 AM
I don't want to sound like one of those windbag art "critics", and I'm not claiming authority
And yet, you have to --in order to talk about it at all, which you very much want to do.

Hoisted on your own petard. Unavoidable when you take the position you've adopted; comes with the territory ... even when you issue disclaimers:


..I 'm just giving you my personal impressions which are admittedly of no more value than yours.
It's alright ... we all know you actually know more about art than the next guy. ;)

Luca
May 8th, 2008, 08:04 AM
^ I agree with Ablarc (quelle surprise); I think that MTG's disclaimer is contraddictory -- no offense MTG.


May I recap this very entertaining/interesting discussion up to now?

1. There is obviously some subjectivity in the appreciation and meaning of art, but there are some tenets of quality that many (though not all) can agree on. This seems to be split along 'ideological' lines. :cool:

2. Midtownguy really likes Ofili's Work. Most people don't. ;)


One thing I find interesting is that, among people who even contemplate discussing art & architecture beyond "I do/do not like it... it's purely subjective", there is often a clear split between 'labelists' and 'qualitatives'.

While I am clearly on the 'qualitative' side, I do find that even that can take on systemicist overtones and lead to contraddictions.

infoshare
May 8th, 2008, 09:27 AM
The Guggenheim: In my opinion is one of the top ten best works of Architecture (http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Guggenheim_Museum.html) in NYC - perhaps the world. You, on the other hand claim (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=224544&postcount=13) that it is bad/ugly/mediocre Architecture.

I would say (no offense) that your opinion of this work is wrong: and not simply (statistically) because most people like it; and you don't.

Where does that leave us in terms of 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' or it just a 'matter of opinion'. :confused:

My point is that your opinion of this work of Art is wrong/incorrect/false and my opinion is right/correct/true. Question is: Who is "Mr. Wright" :D on this point, me/you, or is it just a 'matter of opinon"

Jasonik
May 8th, 2008, 11:05 AM
MidtownGuy found beauty in Ofili's work because he was open to understanding the work, where his perception intersected with that of the artist's projection. Icon imagery, fertility, careful brushwork and craft, these are terms he understood and was able to appreciate within the context of the work and it had beauty for him.

Asking oneself why a certain thing is superior to another or significant, or unique is the way we develop our understanding of the criteria and terms we use to make personal judgments; "what is my personal discernment process?"

We all have inherent proclivities for these subjective and categorical measures, but I dispute the notion that, for instance, MidtownGuy is unable to understand what I mean when I ask him to consider that Ofili was making a classical juxtaposition between the sacred and profane, the virginal and defiled, - to simultaneously make a distinction, only to have us question that distinction.

I may be engaged in "tiresome analyzing" but his ability to understand what I've said is only limited by the openness of his mind or his limited perception, neither of which I suspect.

Regarding Wright's Guggenheim, any attempts at critique that ignore the entire composition as an expression of a continuous processional viewing experience miss the point. It's like saying "a fork is no good because soup just runs out of it." Or, "I don't like the pointy bits on the fork." There is beauty in functionality. Granted, there are valid criticisms of the Guggenheim's functionality, but as an architectonic statement of purpose-built form, the genius is evident, - or someone is willfully avoiding understanding, and blinding themselves to beauty.

Ninjahedge
May 8th, 2008, 12:05 PM
FLW is a difficult one, he is one that, were it not for his "disobedient" engineers, would have no more than piles of rubble for his greatest works (fallingwater being the most notable).

His look is outstanding, but his ego got in the way of his vision. he made doors that were only tall enough for him, and walls that only held paintings he thought would be appropriate.

There is a subtle difference between art and architecture in that, just like cars, no matter how pretty you make it, you still hav eto make it run.

And if you have trouble getting past 50 on the highway in a car made today, it does not matter if it has people fainting in the streets, it cannot really be called a car for more than gratuitous patronage to the effort.


The Guggenheim (sp) is a very attractive building, but it shows the artists own limited, or unwilling, lack of scope to be able to make a building that not only looks good, but does what all the other ones that don't can do.

Luca
May 8th, 2008, 12:47 PM
The Guggenheim: In my opinion is one of the top ten best works of Architecture (http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Guggenheim_Museum.html) in NYC - perhaps the world. You, on the other hand claim (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=224544&postcount=13) that it is bad/ugly/mediocre Architecture.

I would say (no offense) that your opinion of this work is wrong: and not simply (statistically) because most people like it; and you don't.

Where does that leave us in terms of 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' or it just a 'matter of opinion'. :confused:

My point is that your opinion of this work of Art is wrong/incorrect/false and my opinion is right/correct/true. Question is: Who is "Mr. Wright" :D on this point, me/you, or is it just a 'matter of opinon"

As long as we just make statements; talk past each other, as it were; we do reduce it to a "to-may-to / to-mah-to" discussion.

Without presuming to resolve this difference (i.e., somehow convince you that I am right and you are not), however, I can explore the reasons for my judgement and the reasons for yours. We cna then, perhaps, dig a bit deeper on why we set different priorities/parameters of qualification and that may illustrate the root of teh difference and, it's not impossible, reduce it.

I'll start. I think the Guggenheim is overrated (which is not the same as sayign ti is awful) for a number of reasons, among which:

1. It is arguably not very successful programmatically (i.e., with the same material / footprint, you coudl have exhibited a greater portion of the collection as well if not better.

2. Because of its massing, in spite of beign a building of middling size by NY standards, it looks lumpy. There is virtually a lack of 'discourse' between the inside and the otuside due to the lack of fenestration. You're in or you're out.

3. It broke up a visually valuable, harmonious progrssion of building son a prime location, apparently for the sake fo novelty. it WANTS to stick out and it wants to stick out not by being more sublime, more poised, more delicately arranged than other buildings but by being a rather odd shape. Hmmm.

Why do YOU like it? :confused:

Luca
May 8th, 2008, 12:56 PM
Asking oneself why a certain thing is superior to another or significant, or unique is the way we develop our understanding of the criteria and terms we use to make personal judgments; "what is my personal discernment process?"

Agreed.


Regarding Wright's Guggenheim, any attempts at critique that ignore the entire composition as an expression of a continuous processional viewing experience miss the point.

I’m not sure that statement actually means anything, but, you know, maybe it’s my poor English…


It's like saying "a fork is no good because soup just runs out of it."

No. It’s like saying that a soup-spoon that is slotted in its bowl, has a 3-ft.-long handle and is made of unpolished metal is a crap, ugly spoon.


There is beauty in functionality. Granted, there are valid criticisms of the Guggenheim's functionality

First, I think in any design issue there is a problem if we define functionality reductively as in an engineering sense. Especially in a museum.

Secondly, as you yourself note, even as a purely functional (place to display art neutrally) construct, it is flawed.


but as an architectonic statement of purpose-built form, the genius is evident, - or someone is willfully avoiding understanding, and blinding themselves to beauty.

^ given the above, how is that genius? “I build form for a purpose (not so well” That is genius? That is (barely) competence.


or someone is willfully avoiding understanding, and blinding themselves to beauty.

I think the opposite; that I am wilfully refusing to accept that I must like it and, by opening my eyes, see that the emperor is not only butt-naked but also has a nasty rash.

Jasonik
May 8th, 2008, 01:17 PM
The Aston Martin DB9 (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=228608&postcount=188) is overrated.

1. With all that horsepower it only carries 2 people? An utter failure.

2. It isn't as free as a motorcycle. Motoring in a sealed environment is no good.

3. A head turning sportscar should not shout "LOOK AT ME!" It should be discrete like business sedans.

*****

Luca, it probably is your poor English.

I never said you must like anything. What I do contend is that in order to appreciate its beauty you must proactively endeavor to understand it.

Jasonik
May 9th, 2008, 04:34 PM
For a heartfelt and deeply touching meditation on art, inspiration, and joy - I humbly recommend this bit of blogging by Arthur Silber:

Cultivate Your Sense of Wonder, and Live Ecstatically (http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2008/05/cultivate-your-sense-of-wonder-and-live.html)

Luca
May 12th, 2008, 05:09 AM
The Aston Martin DB9 (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=228608&postcount=188) is overrated.
1. With all that horsepower it only carries 2 people? An utter failure.
2. It isn't as free as a motorcycle. Motoring in a sealed environment is no good.
3. A head turning sportscar should not shout "LOOK AT ME!" It should be discrete like business sedans.


I recommend you think about what you’re saying before you spout more nonsense. :rolleyes:
Aston Martins are great at what they do. That is, shout: “I’m rich, have very few points left on my license and am looking for the kind of peroxide floozy who is impressed by bling”. :D

One could still argue that a DB9 is not an impressive passenger vehicle, forma practical viewpoint. As an expensive toy, it's great. It depends on what you’re looking for.


The Aston Martin DB9 (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=228608&postcount=188) is overrated.
Luca, it probably is your poor English.

That must be it. :D ;) :) :rolleyes:

infoshare
May 18th, 2008, 02:04 PM
As long as we just make statements; talk past each other, as it were; we do reduce it to a "to-may-to / to-mah-to" discussion.

Without presuming to resolve this difference (i.e., somehow convince you that I am right and you are not), however, I can explore the reasons for my judgement and the reasons for yours.

Sorry about the delayed response: been away.

I will concede that it is very well possible that YOU are right and I am wrong. Ultimately, the point I am attempting to make here has more to do with semantics than aesthetics.

If in fact you are correct: would it not STILL be acceptable (I would argue preferable) to say that "it is your opinion" that the design of the Guggenheim Museum (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=228976&postcount=38) is overrated.

My main contention here is that I do not believe it is WRONG to use the more tentative term "opinion"; even if one "knows" they are correct in there judgement of a work of Art/Architecture.

With that final point being made, I will move on to other topics: but, thanks for your thoughtful responses to my - perhaps vague - comments.

ablarc
January 3rd, 2009, 06:02 PM
Two articles with the title of this topic, one light and one heavy:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15098830/ . This one may explain why MidtownGuy likes dung artwork more than Luca. (When will MG return?)

http://www.oswestryschool.org.uk/decimus/beauty.htm . Poses the question: does beauty have an objective, even mathematical, basis?

.

infoshare
January 3rd, 2009, 06:40 PM
"Beauty is the promise of happiness"

I 'my opinion' this (http://www.amazon.ca/Architecture-Happiness-Alain-Botton/dp/product-description/0771026072) is one of the best books ever written about Architecture: sort of a philosophical exploration of various ways architecture speaks to us, and can sometimes have the power of evoking associations of beauty and happyness.

Excerpt from article - http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-architecture-of-happiness-by-alain-de-botton-476794.html
What exactly is the meaning of Alain de Botton? How best to understand this meticulous and intricate personality, this finely wrought phenomenon? Personally, I was immediately taken by his first book, Essays in Love. Slightly ephebic in tone, the mock profundity of the title was utterly seductive. As was the high intelligence and gentle style, which may or may not have contained elements of self-mockery.

Then he rolled out a guide to Proust which confounded all assumptions in the book trade. There is something exceptional about Alain de Botton. He has special weapons and tactics in the war on philistinism: he is erudite, but unthreatening, with the curiosity and sensitivity of a very bright child. His reader is taken along a journey with a sense of shared revelation. He neither talks down nor dumbs down.

The Architecture of Happiness has all these elements of a winning formula. But architecture is an even bigger subject than philosophy and status (de Botton's last tours d'horizon), not least because it assumes both. In a spectrum of architectural scholarship, I would certainly put de Botton closer to Nikolaus Pevsner than Laurence Llewellyn Bowen, although there is very little in this book unfamiliar to first-year students in any school of architecture.

We go Classic, Gothic, Victorian, Modern, Post-Modern. There is an obligatory ho-ho at an ugly Seventies tower-block. It is not the work of an architectural specialist, but then that is not de Botton's USP: "a philosopher looks at architecture". This intellectual identity allows de Botton to have a high old time making stylish and amusing judgements, with lavish and imaginative references, but anyone in search of privileged insights into the substance of building design should be warned that when this particular philosopher is looking at architecture he is not looking at drain schedules, pipe runs, thrust paths, strain gauges or circulation plans; de Botton is looking at façades.

Jasonik
February 26th, 2009, 09:07 PM
Men, Women Admire Beauty Differently in Brain

Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press (http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/02/24/men-women-beauty.html)

Feb. 24, 2009 -- Beauty is in the brain of the beholder. Go to any museum and there will be men and women admiring paintings and sculpture. But it turns out they are thinking about the sight differently. Men process beauty on the right side of their brains, while women use their whole brain to do the job, researchers report in Tuesday's electronic edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

They even explain it differently.

Novelist Margaret Wolfe Hungerford: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Essayist David Hume: "Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."

Researchers were surprised by the finding.

"It is well known that there are differences (http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/11/04/men-women-bacteria.html) between brain activity in women and men (http://health.howstuffworks.com/men-women-different-brains.htm) in cognitive tasks," said researcher Camilo J. Cela-Conde of the University of Baleares in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. "However, why should this kind of difference appear in the case of appreciation of beauty?"

The answer seems to be that when women consider a visual object they link it to language while men concentrate on the spatial aspects of the object, Cela-Conde said in an interview by e-mail.

He noted, however, that this doesn't explain why -- and how -- the human capacity to appreciate beauty evolved.

"The differences that we have found might relate to the different social roles that, hypothetically, men and women had during human evolution." he said.

The researchers tested 10 men and 10 women, showing them paintings and photos of urban scenes and landscapes, asking them to rate each scene as either "beautiful" or "not beautiful."

At the same time the scientists looked at images of the magnetic fields produced by electrical currents in the brains of the men and women.

For the first 300 milliseconds, there was no difference between male and female brains, and from 300 to 700 milliseconds activity was greater for objects that were rated as beautiful than for those that were not beautiful.

For both sexes the most active region was the parietal lobe that deals with visual perception, spatial orientation and information processing, but it was focused on the right side of the brain in men while both sides participated in women.

While there are differences between people as to what is beautiful and what isn't, Cela-Conde said they did not find identifiable differences related to sex.

"Any person can find beautiful a landscape, a building or a canvas that some others will find awful. But sex has little to do with those differences. Perhaps they relate with other variables, such as age or education." he said.

"It is curious that, using different neural networks, the final result is very similar in women and men. But this seems to be the case," Cela-Conde said.

He added: "Human nature is complex and difficult to study and understand. Nevertheless, thanks to scientific tools we are starting to know a bit more about some very important aspects of our nature."

londonlawyer
February 27th, 2009, 05:14 PM
While beauty generally is subjective, some things are objectively beautiful.

http://www.datzhott.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/salma_hayek.jpg

Bronxbombers
February 27th, 2009, 11:44 PM
Thanks very very much for posting the picture of Salma Hayek. And yes Salma Hayek is drop dead gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!

ablarc
May 17th, 2009, 09:48 AM
When Susan Boyle launched into her song, she had the audience on its feet and the judges wreathed in smiles in less than ten seconds flat.

Here was an aesthetic judgment everybody agreed on: Susan sings beautifully.

How come all those beholders saw the same thing?

Maybe it's because we were all beholding popular art, about which there's much greater agreement than about fine art.

This is because popular or commercial art seeks to provide us with the familiar, while fine art wants to challenge us with something wholly new and unfamiliar (Ofili).

When asked the secret of writing so many hit songs, a wildly successful songwriter candidly replied: "Make sure it sounds a little like something else."

I can name half a dozen influences on Susan Boyle.

Gregory Tenenbaum
June 1st, 2009, 04:52 PM
Gladwell recently said on CNN that Mozart was composing "absolute rubbish" at the age of 11.

Something to do with his 10,000 hour rule.

Gekko
June 2nd, 2009, 08:07 AM
Anyone knows how's Susan Boyle and Piers Morgan dinner date going?