What makes something beautiful?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by David Hall, Jan 31, 2003.

  1. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    We all know when we something beautiful. And, the occasional inexplicable fetish aside, we all seem to have some internal criteria in common: we can all look at a Picasso and pretty much agree that it is pleasing to the eye.

    But why? What is it about an image that makes it beautiful in ways that almost all of us see unervisally?


    dgh
     
  2. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (David Hall @ Jan 31 2003, 10:37 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>We all know when we something beautiful.&nbsp; And, the occasional inexplicable fetish aside, we all seem to have some internal criteria in common: we can all look at a Picasso and pretty much agree that it is pleasing to the eye.

    But why?&nbsp; What is it about an image that makes it beautiful in ways that almost all of us see unervisally?


    dgh</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Ah ... so now we get to the easy questions. Apparently some sort of *Karmic* balance for the really enjoyable "How many boxes do we have" discussion.

    I have been mulling this over ... First, I am not at all sure that there is an image so "universally beautiful" that it would form a base for discussion.

    In general I am partial to Picasso's work ... but, certainly, not *everything* that he produced was "beautiful" - a case in point would be one of his most significant pieces, "Guernica". A *wonderful* work - certainly successful in terms of fulflling its "mission" - the portrayal of the imcomprehensible horrors of an air attack on a civilian population... but I could not, by any stretch of the imagination, call that "beautiful".

    So what WOULD be considered "so beautiful that everyone would agree that it was"?

    I have some *possibilities* - but they are certainly the products of my own conditioning .... Renior's "Torse au Soliel", LOTS of Sir Alma Tadema's work, Anders Zorn, Erte, Edward Westons nudes.... I have no idea where to start, let alone choose *one*.

    Let's see ... Possibly Boticelli's "The Birth of Venus"? Or one of Georgia O'Keefe's flowers ...?

    Anything I can think of has, at one time or another been "slammed" by the knowledgable critics of its day.... and there are those who will not agree today that it is even marginally, let alone "universally", beautiful.

    Possibly the best critera we could possibly have to judge "beauty *IS* the "Occasional Inexpliable Fetish". posessed individually by each of us.

    Anyway, this will count toward gaining another "box".
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Ed, I am absolutely amazed at the depth of your art knowledge. We will let that post count toward your next level on this site, and never bring up the fact that you snowed us on that one.
     
  4. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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  5. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    Won't be wine, probably Guinness. But, after, not before or during...

    Beauty is something that attracts you to the extent that you want to be part of it. It is a place or something that you want to have as part of your life. I think that is the simplest explanation I can provide as to what makes something beautiful.
     
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (dnmilikan @ Jan 31 2003, 12:12 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Ed, I am absolutely amazed at the depth of your art knowledge. We will let that post count toward your next level on this site, and never bring up the fact that you snowed us on that one.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    My apologies. Occasionally I get so "entwined" in the more esoteric questions (the meaning of life) that I tend to ramble. A little like looking up a subject in an encyclopedia, finding something else of interest, and losing track of the original subject.

    I did... ? I really did ... "snow" someone here?? Sheez ... I'm better than I thought!
     
  7. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Joe Lipka @ Jan 31 2003, 02:01 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Won't be wine, probably Guinness.&nbsp; But, after, not before or during...

    Beauty is something that attracts you to the extent that you want to be part of it.&nbsp; It is a place or something that you want to have as part of your life.&nbsp; I think that is the simplest explanation I can provide as to what makes something beautiful.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    The best definition I've heard yet!

    During isn't bad, either.
     
  8. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  9. Brian

    Brian Member

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    Two studies come to mind:

    1) (recent) scientists discover that after 4 drinks, members of the opposite sex appear 25% more attractive. [your tax dollars at work]

    2) out of a random selection of facial images, the image chosen most often as "beautiful" was the one that averaged all the other images.

    There is a rhythm and pattern to the universe. When we experience that pattern in concentrated form, be it image, sound, or touch, it is "beautiful". That seems to me to be a common denominator.

    More electic tastes are idiosyncratic, and may be described as beautiful by a subset of the population, but the percentile classifying such works is smaller than the common denominator.

    For me, the answer is simple. F*** what others think is beautiful, what do I think it beautiful? It's a cliche, but beauty is ultimately subjective.

    If you want to make a living selling art, be average, that's the lesson here (average in appeal, not in impact or Pirsig's "quality"). But that doesn't answer the question of what is art? To me, art evokes emotion, and if you can evoke emotion, you have created beauty, ceterus paribus, and that is all you need.

    That, and 6 margaritas.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Pixels per inch. Definitely pixels per inch.

    MTF curves--more beautiful things definitely have better MTFs.

    Line pairs per inch. The more line pairs per inch, the more beautiful.

    Dmax. Dmax is definitely proportional to beauty.

    Now flare--flare is ugly. The less flare, the more beautiful.

    Aberrations are ugly. The less aberrent, the more beautiful.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Ooh, I just got another box.
     
  12. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Teeny tiny circles of confusion.
    The right kind of bokeh, whatever is the right kind.
    Good chiarascuro or however you spell it.
    Dmin (sort of the anti-Dmax, like yin and yang).
    Good saturation but not overblown "Disneyland" colors.
    The right aberrations for that old timey "glow" that only comes from old beat up low quality lenses, crusted with motor oil, spilled beer and cigarette tar.
    The look of old films we can't get anymore, printed on papers the corporations keep planning to discontinue.
    Anything and anyone, if enough booze is administered.
    [​IMG]
    But seriously, I have no idea why some things strike me as beautiful or ugly. Analyzing them makes no difference. I don't like Picasso paintings. I don't know why. Either I immediately like something or I don't. If I have to analyze it and convince myself that I like it, then I guess I really didn't like it after all.
     
  13. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Bruce (Camclicker) @ Jan 31 2003, 02:00 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I found an essay that I find inspirational on this subject:

    http://www.paulgraham.com/taste.html</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    I checked that out... Quite some food for thought here.

    A couple of points I'd like to bring out ... I think it is an error to assume that when I say it is difficult to define an "Universal Beauty" that "Beauty" in itself does not exist.

    Equally as misleading is the idea that, if each of us has their own concept of "what is beautiful" it necessarily follows that we are completely satified with our work as it stands, and there is no motivation to "improve". Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I don't think I've ever made a print I was satisfied with. There is always something ... a little less or more exposure; dodging or burning here or there .... contrast...

    At some point I have to say, "This is the end." and stop.

    We each have our own concepts ... call them visions... of "beauty". They can be, and usually are, harsh taskmasters.

    Enough rambling.

    We are defined by our likes and dislikes, our mindsets and conditioning .... and a lot of other attributes that I am not at all certain that I understand.

    My vote for all-time, all-media most beautiful work of all time: Renoir's "Torse au Soliel" - see the attached file (I hope it works).

    Comments?
     
  14. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    That was a good article, thanks for the URL. I still remember "art appreciation" class in high school. Some of the paintings we saw blew me away, others I simply thought were junk and said so. I just couldn't see the sense in being told what I should like, no matter how "important" anyone else thought a painting might be. I didn't know it then, and could not put it into words, but the ones I hated were just too contrived, or were trying too hard to make "a statement". It was like they were being forced into whatever "school of art" was in fashion at the time. Some were just too cluttered or too weird. Just like photos (or anything else) that are too busy or consciously trying too hard to be "art" or "original" or "important" and fall flat. What I got from the article was that simplicity is beauty. Sort of like Akkam's Razor which says the simplest explanation is the best one. It makes sense.
     
  15. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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