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BY EVAN MANTYK
EPOCH TIMES STAFF
NEW YORKBritish writer, phi-
losopher, and composer Roger
Scruton believes that beauty in art
does matter and that the modern
art of the 20th century has largely
lost that beauty.
A BBC documentary from
2009 vividly detailing Scrutons
views on beauty and art is slowly
but steadily spreading on the
Internet.
Scruton states in his introduc-
tion: I think we are losing beauty,
and with it there is the danger of
losing the meaning of life.
For Scruton, beauty is not in
the eye of the beholder. It is
an objective trutha classical
notion, but one that is com-
pletely revolutionary in todays
art marketplace.
Take for example Sothebys
recent sale of Mark Rothkos
seminal No.1 (Royal Red and
Blue) for $75 million. The work
consists of little more than a few
rectangles of coordinated colors.
Anyone who is not told the value
of such art would nd it dif-
cult to identify it with beauty or
beauty with any dollar value.
As Scruton narrates in his doc-
umentary, In the 20th century,
beauty stopped being impor-
tant. Art increasingly aimed to
disturb and break moral taboos.
It was not beauty but originality
however achieved.
The realization among artists
and nonartists alike is increas-
ingly that the emperor, in this
case the art market, is wearing no
clothes. Who can really respect an
emperor who insists his parad-
ing, naked body is cloaked in the
nest of garments? To the clear-
headed, hes delusional.
One day the knowledge that the
emperor has no clothes will spread,
and the market will crashbut
only temporarily, Scruton said
in an email interview.
The true aesthetic value, the
beauty, has vanished in modern
works that are selling for mil-
lions of dollars. In such works, by
artists like Rothko, Franz Kline,
Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin,
the beauty has been replaced
by discourse. The lofty ideals of
beauty are replaced by a social
essay.
Scruton identies these promi-
nent trends visible in todays art
market: I think the most impor-
tant [trends] are the advantage
conferred on people with a plau-
sible sales talk, and the way in
which the art establishment can
replace spiritual with material
values, by propagating art that
is primarily to be owned rather
than to be looked at.
As for the undervalued art that
predates the 20th century, Scru-
ton said that such works have
a lot to offer, including beauty,
humanity, and the care of the
soul.
Some of the artists he picks as
the greatest include Titian, Tin-
toretto, Rembrandt, and Corot.
Good art appeals to what is best
in people and sets them on the
path to self-knowledge, he said.
As for his other insights, Scruton
talked about the unied goal of
the arts, whether they be ne arts,
performing arts, or literary arts:
They are all attempts to raise their
audience from the animal to the
spiritual level (except when they
attempt the opposite, like the art
of desecration today).
And, if he were endowed with
enough funding, he said: I would
establish schools to teach the true
disciplines, which are needed:
life drawing, perspective and the
knowledge of light and shade, in
the case of visual art; materials,
shadows, proportions and the
Orders, in the case of architec-
ture; harmony and counterpoint
in the case of music; verse forms,
rhetorical gures, and the wealth
of imaginative knowledge in the
case of literature.
Scrutons simple yet powerful
vision is a return to the best of
classical arts. Lets face it, Scruton
is right: The emperor looks much
better with clothes on.
DECEMBER 6 12, 2012
Why Beauty in Art
Matters: Roger Scruton
BBC documentary details
philosopher's views on aesthetics
Good art appeals
to what is best
in people and
sets them on
the path to self-
knowledge.
ROGER SCRUTON
Portrait of Gabrielle Cot, William Bouguereau (18251905), oil on canvas, 1890. Bouguereau
was so enchanted by Gabrielles inner beauty, he was known to have lost himself in the painting.
He produced a work considered one of the nest portrait paintings in history.
LAmour au Papillon,
(Cupid with a
Buttery), by William
Bouguereau, oil on
canvas, 1888, about 66
inches by 46 inches,
collection of Fred and
Sherry Ross.
ARTRENEWAL.ORG
Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite, by Albert Bierstadt (18301902), oil
on canvas, circa 1872, about 26 inches by 3 feet, North Carolina
Museum of Art.
ARTRENEWAL.ORG
For an in-depth look at why
beauty maters, watch Scrutons
documentary online at www.
youtube.com/watch?v=csBzlE-PQOU
ARTRENEWAL.ORG
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