Objective beauty, personal aesthetics

Beauty, and the idea that there are “objective” standards of Beauty — however far beyond our ability to imagine, create, notate and understand them in this — is a driving force in my life and my art. I generally use the word “Divine” in place of “objective,” but the meaning is the same to me.

The trick is that I also understand the notion of personal aesthetics as described by Alain de Botton in his book The Architecture of Happiness. I’ve mentioned Botton and his ideas a number of times before, particularly here.

What if there is an objective beauty and personal aesthetics. As I brainstorm in my html editor, I’m wondering if our own subjective, personal ideas of beauty aren’t each part of the larger puzzle. Some of us like Victorian architecture, some Gothic, some the beautiful Japanese structures of the Edo period and still others mid-century modern. Perhaps the Divine, objective aesthetic is some unfathomable but utterly perfect combination of all styles.

This is pure speculation of course, and needs some significant mulling over. Even beginning from the point at which I believe that the Divine aesthetic is beyond our ability to imagine, create, notate and understand, this is a thought that seems worth pursuing.

This entry was inspired by Old World Swine’s two most recent posts, No Talent Required and Objective Beauty, both good reads.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

One Response to Objective beauty, personal aesthetics

  1. Arnold says:

    I prefer to approach beauty by using the terms wonder or awe. I believe that there is something innate within us that responds to the beautiful, the wonderful – something that is part of how God made us in order to draw our attention to Him.

    In nature, there are few of us that do not respond in wonder or awe at natural wonders such as a rainbow, a sweeping landscape, a flower, a thunderstorm, etc. (This is what keeps the scenic calendar companies in business.)

    There is art that I like based on my appreciation of skill, composition, etc. But mostly, my initial response is the “wow factor” – art that has me wrapped up in a sense of awe or wonder, that has me feeling like a child again. Scale is often a factor that gets me (think Richard Serra). Some of my favorites include the fanciful mobiles by Alexander Calder, or the colors and textures of the impressionists, the landscapes of Ansell Adams.

    The same sense of wonder could be applied to music, dance, theatre, or any of the arts. Something truly beautiful appeals to that sense of wonder in all of us.

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