This is Laine 8 a 60 x 44 inch acrylic on canvas. I just completely reworked her. I recently had a conversation with our son as to why I do this so often. I'll talk about that another day. Today aesthetics is on my mind.
Most of us think of art and aesthetics as pretty broad topics and tough to define. One of the most common definitions of aesthetics is that it is "in the culturally conditioned eye of the beholder”. I suspect that we can all agree that there are likely to be universal aesthetic experiences. And before we trudge downtown for the latest exhibit or performance, we like to be told that something is good or not good based on some critic’s aesthetic criteria. A neuroscientist friend told me that the same area of our brain that reacts favorably to “art” also reacts in the same way to a Kit Kat candy bar.
Anyhow, you can't discuss aesthetics in art without first having some notion of what constitutes art. And that discussion has to take into account that art is always changing and that our brain is plastic and able to reflect a new vision and taste for both the artist and the viewer. If we accept what Duchamp was saying almost 100 years ago then anything can be art and if that is the case than certainly contemporary discussions of aesthetics have come to include much more than what we call beauty and if that is the case than maybe beauty is just one possible element of what we might describe as a captivating experience. Maybe just being captivating is the catchall requirement for us to have an aesthetic art experience.
For me this category includes a wide range of stuff including, the Mona Lisa, horrific images of war, elegant design, fine craftsmanship like the Leica M3, work by de Kooning, Mapplethorpe, Picasso, Dumas, Serra, Andre, Goya, Golub, Beuys and on and on and on and on. How do you get your arms around this? You can't, so don’t try. It is a moving target and that comes with the territory. Art thrives on newness and change but for me, it also respects its history.
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