Some Thoughts on Beauty All


Some Thoughts on Beauty

All those who care to do so have had the opportunity to respond, and now I will try to spell out my answers and some of the reasons for the choices of pieces that I made.

1. Pablo Picasso's Guernica--No
2. Pablo Picasso's Les Desmoiselles D'Avignon--Perhaps
3. Dali The Persistence of Memory--Yes
4. Joan Miro Festival of the Harlequin--Yes
5. Georgia O'Keefe Iris--Probably not
6. Monet Impression:Sunrise--Yes
7. Courbet The Seacoast--Probably

8. Debussy La Mer--Yes
9. Schönberg PIerrot Lunaire--No
10. Schönberg Verklarte Nacht--Yes
11. Hindemith Mathis der Mahler--Yes
12. StraussAlso Sprache Zarathustra--No
13. Holst The Planets--Yes
14. Webern Five Pieces for Small Orchestra Bonus question: did he really encode secrets in his music?--No
15. Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta--Transcendantly yes
16. Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme by Paganini--Yes
17. Vaughn Williams The Lark Ascending--Yes

As we have all seen, tremendously subjective evaluations. I included Guernica because while it is important, powerful, and disturbing, I do not think its moral outrage is sufficient to make it beautiful.

Les Desmoiselles D'Avignon is an intriguing piece that seems to be trying to do more than simply portray the women involved. The idea gets in the way, but the canvas comes closer to capturing that elusive element of beauty than does the other work by Picasso. This may be beautiful in a distant, not-particularly-inviting way.

I think the next two works are frighteningly beautiful. They attempt to capture, and largely succeed something entirely beyond human experience, yet somehow in accord with it and impinging upon it. In that sense they aim at the Divine, and miss by a good deal, but they convey to me a sense of the artist's striving.

The Georgia O'Keefe was included as an example of something that is quite pretty, but I don't know if it qualifies as beautiful. It is certainly intimate and quite close, but I don't know that it reaches to beauty.

Impression Sunrise while not by any means my favorite Monet (probably "Woman with a Parasol" [don't mistake this with "Woman with a Parasol Turned to the Left"]or "La Japonaise") is a beautiful piece because it capture more than just the Sunrise or the artist's impression of the sunrise. It moves beyond the mere subjective in an attempt to find something about all sunrises in painting.

Once again the Courbet is pretty, but I do not know if it reaches to beautiful.

With the exception of the first, these are all paintings that if I were able to buy them at a reasonable price, I would have them in my home. Not for their monetary value, but because they are all pleasant enough to look at, and some are more.

Tomorrow I will comment on the music.

But I see that beauty is an interesting interprise and topic and I am coming to some conclusions via discussion with Mr. da Fiesole about what constitutes beauty--although knowing this is probably insufficient to begin saying why it has the effect that it does.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 13, 2003 6:39 PM.

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Query for the Musically Inclined is the next entry in this blog.

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