The Beautiful In Art

Beauty is inthe eye of the beholder

By: Malia Fellenbaum

Does art have to be beautiful to be called art? This question has been argued and discussed for years. Art has changed throughout the centuries. When do people decide that a piece of art is beautiful enough to “become” art.

For this essay beauty will be defined as something that is attractive to the eye. Beauty is subjective to every person. There may be one person who thinks a painting is pleasing to the eye, but another may say it is ugly. Therefore, it is difficult to prove that art is or is not beautiful. For each individual, beauty is defined differently. Their view depends on their likes, dislikes, and beliefs. Art can not be measured in beauty. It is an expression of the artist.

Many artists use their talents to raise awareness for an issue. When depicting a topic such as world hunger, artists show the hardships and pain in their work. The purpose of their art is not for beauty. Many times, art has been used to make people see one side of a topic. An example of this would be the Destroyed City sculpture in Rotterdam. The artist, Ossip Zadkine, created it to show the devastation and destruction the city went through during World War II. He made a hole near the center of the statue to depict the destroyed heart of Rotterdam. In Zadkine’s own words it is “A cry of horror against the inhuman brutality of this act of tyranny.” Although difficult to prove that the statue is not beautiful, one can prove that its purpose was to bring awareness to the terror of World War II.

Another example of activism art would be Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. This painting depicts seven surgeons watching Dr. Nicolaes Tulp perform surgery on a dead man. These “Anatomy Lessons” were normal in 1632. Doctors went to these to have extra training. The man Dr. Nicolaes is performing surgery on is a criminal who was hanged earlier that day. Rembrandt’s message was to show that criminality ends in death. This painting is not meant for beauty, but to show the lifestyle of the 1600s.

Although some artists goal is to share something beautiful, most artists goal in their art is to share their thoughts, beliefs, and interests. Van Gogh painted the Cafe Terrace at Night to show the beauty of the little cafe against the night sky. In contrast, he also painted Starry Night in a mental asylum. The painting portrays his love for God, but also his loneliness.

Art therapy is an example of expression in art. It is a way of taking all your emotions and putting them on paper. Art therapy heals mental and emotional problems. The therapy also serve as a distraction from sadness, as shown in the article An Example of Art Therapy With an Adult. Claire, an adult, is an example of art therapy. She was unhappy and told to draw three pictures. The first one was with her mother who is fitting her in a dress. Claire says her mother was unavailable to her as a child. In the next painting, Claire painted her father far off in the distance to show that he was always very distant to her. In the last picture, she drew red, yellow and green lines. They signified her anger, urge for adventure, and happiness. In the end, Claire was able to clear her head and move towards a better future.

As said by Rainbow Rowell, “And art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” Although many pieces of art are beautiful and appealing to the eye, art is supposed to make us feel something or think more about a topic. Art does not need to be beautiful to be art.