“The great artists of the past were aware that human life was full of chaos and suffering. They had a remedy for this, and the name of that remedy was beauty.”
Roger Scruton makes some incredibly poignant statements in this documentary on why beauty matters in our modern lives, and what we risk in turning away from it.
I must admit that I whole heartedly agree with some of his points, and empathise with the lost soullessness that results from being too consistently around constructed ugliness.
Living in the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, where silver high-rises gleam brighter than the crests of the sparkling harbour, there is a lot of utilitarian building here; a lot of utilitarian service. For the longest time I found it hard on my soul, but it pushed me towards the path that I would follow – that of seeking beauty.
I now understand that the cult of beauty that can be seen in the meteoric rise of fashion is really a search to reclaim that beauty which we have lost in art.
As Roger Scruton says, art today doesn’t have to be beautiful – it can be shocking or ugly or distasteful. Where, then, do we find our reprieve?
Perhaps in the beauty of nature – though many of us live in cities now, in concrete homes that are rented without gardens. Perhaps it is in views that we seek the beauty of nature, since so many high-rises offer a glimpse of the world around us as if the window was a framed moving artwork of a scene from times of old.
I believe that more and more, we seek beauty in fashion – in advertising and products. We look to photography to give us what art no longer will; what art refuses to share anymore- which is hope, in the form of beauty.
Misguided as this may be, since advertising is crafted to drive us to purchase things; there is an irony in the fact that our rebellion from the divine calling of creating beauty has led us to fuel our own consumerism and greed. However, there is real artistry to be found in the reference and return to the true beauty of traditional masterpieces, as can clearly be seen in the copying of great art in the advertising campaigns of Christian Louboutin for his 2011 lookbook and ‘Rubens Fantasy’ images. The price tags of these consumer items reflect their positioning as desirable art – just out of reach for the average consumer, with an ironic twist of destruction because of the nature of the items – shoes.
I believe that fashions attempts to emulate classic beauty is not a parody, even if it pretends to be. Instead it is a truthful craving fulfilled – generously donating to the starved masses the dose of beauty that they unconsciously yearn for and desire. We don’t even know what we’re missing any more, and we are poorer for it.
Beauty, I believe, is the essence of the soul. If fashion has stepped up to deliver into the void that has been left by art, so be it. There are plenty of passionate people who are willing to donate their lives to the cause of the craft, as did the craftsmen in the times of the court, when beauty mattered and everyone knew it.
“I want to persuade you that beauty matters – that is it not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need, we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. I want to show you the path out of that desert.
It is a path that leads to home.”
“There are standard of beauty which we need to build into our lives.
Put beauty first and what you do will be useful forever. ”
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