Beauty in Contemporary Art – A Quest For the Elusive Ideal
Beauty is often defined as a subjective, aesthetic feature of things which makes these objects aesthetically pleasing to see. These objects include humans, nature, landscapes and works of art. Beauty, along with other aesthetic sense, is the most important theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of contemporary philosophy. According to some, beauty is defined as an attitude towards beauty in art, in nature, and in the person. Another branch of aesthetic theory maintains that the only objective reality there is the aesthetic object.
It is interesting to note that although the twentieth century gave way to a movement toward a materialistic and rationalistic society, yet the desire for beauty has remained unaltered. In fact, it is this desire for beauty that has inspired the greatest artists and writers in the history of mankind. Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Robert Frost, and even The Beatles all spoke of their appreciation for beauty in their works. In our own day and age, many people still exhibit a profound love for beauty. In fact, a survey conducted recently found that 85% of Americans find beauty to be an important or very important factor in their lives.
The great philosophers of the past – Immanuel Kant, Leo Tolstoy, and Aristotle – were all inspired by the same longing for beauty. Beauty, they believed, was a primary, instinctive drive that could drive a man’s understanding of his environment and his relation to his fellow beings. Beauty also served as a primary motivator of human actions and a justification for social behaviors. From these roots, beauty – a subjective and personal concept – has continually sought a meaning independent of its utilitarian content. In the current age, however, the quest for beauty has become intertwined with that of happiness and fulfillment – two subjective concepts which have greatly expanded the scope of human endeavor.