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Trebor

Banishment of Beauty

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I just mentioned a couple of things (the article by Dr. Stephen Hicks: "Why Art Became Ugly" and the four-part YouTube video presentation by artist Scott Burdick, "Banishment of Beauty") on another thread, and I think they deserve their own thread to give them deserved attention.

Dr. Stephen Hicks' "Why Art Became Ugly"

Artist Scott Burdick's YouTube Channel (look for the four parts for "Banishment of Beauty")

Dr. Hicks has a similar article, "Post Postmodern Art" as well as a book, Explaining Postmodernism, on the subject.

Edited by Trebor

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Also worth viewing is the VanDamme Academy's eight-part presentation on their art curriculum. Miss VanDamme opens the presentation with a discussion of the art curriculum (literature) at her academy and reads some stunning examples of the writings of some of her young students. Then Luc Travers, one of the teachers at the VanDamme Academy, takes over and presents his method of looking at paintings.

VanDamme Academy's YouTube Channel

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You are welcome. Thank you as well.

Since I mentioned Scott Burdick and his presentation, "Banishment of Beauty," for convenience, here are direct links to the four parts of his presentation (about 1 hour total time):

Scott and his wife, Susan Lyon, are both artists. They share a web site: Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon

Some of the representational artists Scott Burdick mentioned or showed works of in his presentation:

John Singer Sargent

Anders Zorn

Edgar Payne

Richard Schmid

Jeremy Lipking

Daniel Gerhartz

Clive Aspevig

Scott Christensen

Morgan Weistling

Matt Smith

Albert Handell

Burton Silverman

Kevin Macpherson

Alexey Steele

Jacob Collins

Edited by Trebor

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I just mentioned a couple of things (the article by Dr. Stephen Hicks: "Why Art Became Ugly" and the four-part YouTube video presentation by artist Scott Burdick, "Banishment of Beauty") on another thread, and I think they deserve their own thread to give them deserved attention.

Dr. Stephen Hicks' "Why Art Became Ugly"

"Ugly" to whom? Is Dr. Hicks not aware of the fact that not everyone agrees with him about what is beautiful and what is ugly -- that human beings don't have a collective mind, but that each individual has his or her own tastes?

Having visited Hicks' blog occasionally, and having read his essays online, I'm somewhat familiar with his tastes in art, and I think that some of the things that he thinks are beautiful are quite ugly, gaudy, trite or "chocolate box," and some of the things which he thinks are ugly are beautiful. To me, reading his opinions on art and art history can be like hearing someone who loves glittery pictures of fairies and unicorns expressing his anger that others disagree with his tastes.

In his essay, why does Hicks not define beauty or make any attempt to offer objective criteria which would allow his readers to identify which things are beautiful and which are ugly? You'd think that it would occur to an Objectivist philosophy professor that definitions and objective criteria are important. Was he hoping that readers would just accept his subjective tastes as the implied objective standard for the entire human race? Did he expect readers not to notice that he was attempting to smuggle in his own subjective preferences as the implied universal standard?

Dr. Hicks has a similar article, "Post Postmodern Art" as well as a book, Explaining Postmodernism, on the subject.

I think it's worth noting that Hicks is not an art historian. His opinions about art are often based more on philosophical zealotry than they are on historical fact -- he appears to have an ax to grind on a subject about which he is far from being an expert, and he seems to believe that he can invent historical fact by philosophical fiat.

I've addressed some of Hicks' opinions, carelessness and flawed methodology in regard to aesthetics and art history here, here, here, here, here, and here.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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"Ugly" to whom? Is Dr. Hicks not aware of the fact that not everyone agrees with him about what is beautiful and what is ugly -- that human beings don't have a collective mind, but that each individual has his or her own tastes?

Why do you ask me what Dr. Hicks is or is not aware of? I'm not Dr. Hicks.

Having visited Hicks' blog occasionally, and having read his essays online, I'm somewhat familiar with his tastes in art, and I think that some of the things that he thinks are beautiful are quite ugly, gaudy, trite or "chocolate box," and some of the things which he thinks are ugly are beautiful. To me, reading his opinions on art and art history can be like hearing someone who loves glittery pictures of fairies and unicorns expressing his anger that others disagree with his tastes.

Okay. That's your reaction to what Dr. Hicks has to say. I believe you.

In his essay, why does Hicks not define beauty or make any attempt to offer objective criteria which would allow his readers to identify which things are beautiful and which are ugly? You'd think that it would occur to an Objectivist philosophy professor that definitions and objective criteria are important. Was he hoping that readers would just accept his subjective tastes as the implied objective standard for the entire human race? Did he expect readers not to notice that he was attempting to smuggle in his own subjective preferences as the implied universal standard?

Again, I cannot speak for Dr. Hicks. I think, if you have a question of him, the straight-forward thing to do is to ask him directly.

How do you know what I would think? ("You'd think that...")

You have used the words "beauty" (and "beautiful") and "ugly" in your response. I assume then that you know what "beauty" and "ugly" refer to, else how can you use the words?

So, please tell, do you have objective definitions for those words, "beauty" and "ugly"?

Edit: Spelling and clarity

Edited by Trebor

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Why do you ask me what Dr. Hicks is or is not aware of? I'm not Dr. Hicks.

Um, yeah. Heh. Apparently I need to be very direct and literal with you. So. What is it about Hicks' opinions on art and aesthetics that you find to be so valuable and deserving of attention? I find his opinions, and his methods of presenting them, to be rather childish and embarrassing. And beyond that, I don't see him as applying Objectivism in his aesthetic rants, but as deviating from it while mistakenly believing that he's defending it.

Again, I cannot speak for Dr. Hicks. I think, if you have a question of him, the straight-forward thing to do is to ask him directly.

How do you know what I would think?

You appear to have difficulty understanding figures of speech or common idiomatic expressions. When someone uses the phrase "you'd think that..." they are not referring specifically to you. Do you seriously not understand that?

You have used the words "beauty" (and "beautiful") and "ugly" in your response. I assume then that you know what "beauty" and "ugly" refer to, else how can you use the words?

So, please tell, do you have objective definitions for those words, "ugly" and "beauty"?

I'd define "beauty" as that which a person finds to be pleasant or attractive, and "ugly" as that which he finds repulsive or unattractive. I think that beauty and ugliness are subjective judgments, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

J

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What is it about Hicks' opinions on art and aesthetics that you find to be so valuable and deserving of attention? I find his opinions, and his methods of presenting them, to be rather childish and embarrassing. And beyond that, I don't see him as applying Objectivism in his aesthetic rants, but as deviating from it while mistakenly believing that he's defending it.

Jonathan13, Dr.Hicks' article gives a thorough explanation as to why art deviated from beauty and became ugly. Art is objective, and the artists that Trebor

had linked produced objectively beautiful art, and the individuals that Dr.Hicks linked produced objectively bad creations. Yes, I did not even consider

some of the individuals that Dr.Hicks had linked as artists. What I find childish and embarrassing is how the art world digressed to a cult of ugliness,

if I may use this phrase from Scott Burdick in his video "Banishment of Beauty."

I think it's worth noting that Hicks is not an art historian.

I think that is not worth noting, in that a background in art history is not a prerequisite to distinguish between beauty and ugliness, art and smear marks devoid of

representation.

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I'd define "beauty" as that which a person finds to be pleasant or attractive, and "ugly" as that which he finds repulsive or unattractive. I think that beauty and ugliness are subjective judgments, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

I had started a discussion here (http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=21007) on how to define beauty objectively without using any mention of emotion/feeling in the definition. I'm willing to discuss it in that thread.

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Um, yeah. Heh. Apparently I need to be very direct and literal with you.

I think that being direct and literal would be helpful, for the sake of clarity, yes.

You had said: '"Ugly" to whom? Is Dr. Hicks not aware of the fact that not everyone agrees with him about what is beautiful and what is ugly -- that human beings don't have a collective mind, but that each individual has his or her own tastes?'

Do you really think that it's my place to answer such a question, speculating about whether or not Dr. Hicks is aware that not everyone agrees with him about what is beautiful or ugly, etc.?

Why not simply ask Dr. Hicks yourself? You would have his direct answer, and you could even inform us here as to what he says.

So. What is it about Hicks' opinions on art and aesthetics that you find to be so valuable and deserving of attention?

That he is offering an analysis of why art has degenerated as it has. I think that something is badly wrong when trash passes as art, and I want to understand why that has happened. Dr. Hicks has offered his own analysis of the cause. I consider it to be food for thought in my own effort to gain a better understanding of what has taken place. And, I think that trash passing as art relates to your own claim that beauty is subjective. In other words, I think that your own view is at the root of the reason that trash passes as art. You are selling Ellsworth Monkton Toohey; I'm not buying.

I find his opinions, and his methods of presenting them, to be rather childish and embarrassing. And beyond that, I don't see him as applying Objectivism in his aesthetic rants, but as deviating from it while mistakenly believing that he's defending it.

Okay. I accept that such is your opinion.

You appear to have difficulty understanding figures of speech or common idiomatic expressions. When someone uses the phrase "you'd think that..." they are not referring specifically to you. Do you seriously not understand that?

Who are "they" referring to then?

I'm one of the people who has read Dr. Hick's article, so presumably you think that I should think certain things, having read his article. That's presumptuous on your part. Why not simply speak for yourself and not presume to state what others should think?

You had said: "In his essay, why does Hicks not define beauty or make any attempt to offer objective criteria which would allow his readers to identify which things are beautiful and which are ugly? You'd think that it would occur to an Objectivist philosophy professor that definitions and objective criteria are important. Was he hoping that readers would just accept his subjective tastes as the implied objective standard for the entire human race? Did he expect readers not to notice that he was attempting to smuggle in his own subjective preferences as the implied universal standard?"

I'm supposed to know why Dr. Hicks did not define beauty, etc.? I'm supposed to know what he was hoping? I'm supposed to know what he was expecting of his readers?

Why not just leave the arbitrary speculations out and just ask Dr. Hicks yourself?

Enough with the speculations or requests for speculations on Dr. Hicks!

I'd define "beauty" as that which a person finds to be pleasant or attractive, and "ugly" as that which he finds repulsive or unattractive. I think that beauty and ugliness are subjective judgments, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

Your definitions of "beauty" and "ugly":

Beauty - that which a person finds to be pleasant or attractive

Ugly - that which a person finds to be repulsive or unattractive

You say that you think that beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to suport anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

Then why should anyone consider your opinion(s) on beauty and ugliness?

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You had said: "In his essay, why does Hicks not define beauty or make any attempt to offer objective criteria which would allow his readers to identify which things are beautiful and which are ugly? You'd think that it would occur to an Objectivist philosophy professor that definitions and objective criteria are important. Was he hoping that readers would just accept his subjective tastes as the implied objective standard for the entire human race? Did he expect readers not to notice that he was attempting to smuggle in his own subjective preferences as the implied universal standard?"

I'm supposed to know why Dr. Hicks did not define beauty, etc.? I'm supposed to know what he was hoping? I'm supposed to know what he was expecting of his readers?

Regardless of whether it's appropriate to speculate about why Hicks didn't define beauty, I think it makes the article quite ineffective. The Dali painting he linked, why is it ugly anyway? I actually like it because it's kind of silly and dream-like. Without a definition of beauty provided, Hicks is going off a subjective standard.

Edited by Eiuol

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Regardless of whether it's appropriate to speculate about why Hicks didn't define beauty, I think it makes the article quite ineffective. The Dali painting he linked, why is it ugly anyway? I actually like it because it's kind of silly and dream-like. Without a definition of beauty provided, Hicks is going off a subjective standard.

I think the important point in Dr.Hicks' article, "Why Art Became Ugly" is his explanation as to the "why" art had become ugly and then showing

explicit examples of ugly products that are considered artworks. In his article, "Post-Postmodern Art" he had shown explicit examples of beauty. The

power of showing what is beautiful and what is ugly, I think is well done.

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Jonathan13, Dr.Hicks' article gives a thorough explanation as to why art deviated from beauty and became ugly.

No, he gave a subjective opinion. He made unsupported assertions about what is beautiful and what is not.

Modernism and Postmodernism have had a wide variety of practitioners, each with individual mindsets and "senses of life," and their works are very diverse in style and content. They are not limited to Hicks' caricature of negative expressions. Many contain what would traditionally be thought of as very pleasing and harmonious compositions and colors, as well as positive themes or meanings.

Besides, even granting that there are Modernist and Postmodernist artworks that people consider to be ugly or negative, it's false to assume that art was always about beauty prior to Modernism. Artists have always created horrific images along with beautiful ones. Even Rand's novels contain human ugliness.

Objectivism doesn't hold that beauty is the essence or purpose of art. It's not a requirement. According to Objectivism, an artwork is to be judged by how well it presents the artist's view of existence, not by how beautiful it is. An artwork can be horribly ugly and present a view that is antithetical to Objectivism and still be considered aesthetically great. An artwork can be ugly and consistent with Objectivism and be judged to be both aesthetically and morally great.

Art is objective...

Art is a mixture of objectivity and subjectivity. Judgments of what is beautiful or ugly are subjective.

...and the artists that Trebor had linked produced objectively beautiful art, and the individuals that Dr.Hicks linked produced objectively bad creations.

I disagree. I think that some of the art that Trebor linked to is beautiful and some is ugly. In my opinion, some of Jacob Collins' figures are very staged, awkwardly posed and bland. I think this painting, for example, is quite ugly.

And I think that a lot of the modern art that Hicks dislikes is very beautiful. The removal of representation doesn't somehow magically equal ugliness. I mean, even Rand believed that non-representational designs could be beautiful. The fact that you or Hicks or anyone else doesn't like the idea of non-representational art doesn't alter the fact that it can be beautiful, pleasing and harmonious. If anything illustrates the subjectivity of aesthetic judgment it's people's anger about non-representationalism tainting their ability to see beauty in it.

Anyway, what are your objective criteria that I can use when looking at an image to determine that it is objectively beautiful or ugly -- I mean, without having to ask you about what your judgment is of each specific image? Currently, all that you're doing is merely declaring that your and Hicks' subjective tastes are objective. That really doesn't tell me anything other than that you personally find certain images pleasing and others not.

There are paintings about which you and Hicks will disagree as to whether or not they are beautiful. In such cases, which of you is right? Which of you is objective, and by what standard?

Yes, I did not even consider some of the individuals that Dr.Hicks had linked as artists. What I find childish and embarrassing is how the art world digressed to a cult of ugliness, if I may use this phrase from Scott Burdick in his video "Banishment of Beauty."

The art world didn't digress into a cult of ugliness. As I said above, non-representationalism or non-objectivity does not equal "ugly."

I think that is not worth noting, in that a background in art history is not a prerequisite to distinguish between beauty and ugliness, art and smear marks devoid of representation.

I think you missed the point. I wasn't suggesting that a background in art history is required to distinguish between beauty and ugliness. My point was that trying to do art history by philosophical fiat is ridiculous, as is trying to equate non-representationalism or non-objectivity with ugliness.

J

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I consider it to be food for thought in my own effort to gain a better understanding of what has taken place. And, I think that trash passing as art relates to your own claim that beauty is subjective. In other words, I think that your own view is at the root of the reason that trash passes as art. You are selling Ellsworth Monkton Toohey; I'm not buying.

I think the opposite is true. Ellsworth Toohey sought to impose his opinions on others, to bend them to his will and make them think as he did. He didn't like maverick individualists who followed their own visions of beauty. He preached obedience to tradition and to safe, established methods of art creation. That is also what Hicks is doing.

You say that you think that beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to suport anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

Then why should anyone consider your opinion(s) on beauty and ugliness?

Do you think that declaring that one's aesthetic tastes and opinions are objective somehow makes them more worthy of being considered? When you and I disagree about a work of art, would you seriously find it persuasive if I were to assert that my aesthetic judgments are purely objective, that yours are not, and that my tastes are therefore objectively superior to yours?

J

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I had started a discussion here (http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=21007) on how to define beauty objectively without using any mention of emotion/feeling in the definition. I'm willing to discuss it in that thread.

Thanks for the link. I only had time to glance at the thread, but will read it over more carefully when I have more time, and post to it if I have anything worth adding.

One thing that stood out to me was your comment, "Since everything is left up to choice of the artist, there is plenty of room for saying that, to use an example Rand used, a cold sore is ugly in a painting. Portraying deformities in paintings is something to be avoided, because that would in a sense suggesting anything better is not possible in any person."

You might be interested in reading this old post of mine in which I describe a painting that I saw of a beautiful woman with a facial deformity, and the positive meaning that I and others who viewed it with me got from it.

Also, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion of the ugliness used in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or similar works which contain deformities or disabilities but which are generally interpreted as having very positive, life-affirming meanings, such as the statue of Admiral Nelson in Trafalgar Square, or of Marc Quinn's Allison Lapper Pregnant, which is generally seen as representing triumph over difficulties or accidents of birth.

J

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Art is a mixture of objectivity and subjectivity. Judgments of what is beautiful or ugly are subjective.

I disagree. I'm not willing to compromise on the purpose of art and be tolerant to non-representational works.

Doing so, acting on the ideology of subjectivity in regards to artworks sets the context for the really great

works of art to be displayed along side the really bad stuff in a business.

The purpose of art, which is detailed in the articles and works that I assume you have read, is not my opinion

but a requirement of man to live and pursue a good life in a relationship with reality. I'm also assuming

you understand what is good for man to live as a man, and what is anti-life, what is a poison. That which is

beautiful is a value,good for man. That which is ugly is bad for man, such as a poison. It would be presumptuous

of me to expound upon the texts that have already been linked to you in the previous posts.

"Works of art—like everything else in the universe—are entities of a specific nature: the concept requires a definition by their essential characteristics, which distinguish them from all other existing entities. The genus of art works is: man-made objects which present a selective recreation of reality according to the artist’s metaphysical value-judgments, by means of a specific material medium. The species are the works of the various branches of art, defined by the particular media which they employ and which indicate their relation to the various elements of man’s cognitive faculty.

Man’s need of precise definitions rests on the Law of Identity: A is A, a thing is itself. A work of art is a specific entity which possesses a specific nature. If it does not, it is not a work of art. If it is merely a material object, it belongs to some category of material objects—and if it does not belong to any particular category, it belongs to the one reserved for such phenomena: junk.

“Something made by an artist” is not a definition of art. A beard and a vacant stare are not the defining characteristics of an artist.

“Something in a frame hung on a wall” is not a definition of painting.

“Something with a number of pages in a binding” is not a definition of literature.

“Something piled together” is not a definition of sculpture.

“Something made of sounds produced by anything” is not a definition of music.

“Something glued on a flat surface” is not a definition of any art.There is no art that uses glue as a medium. Blades of grass glued on a sheet of paper to represent grass might be good occupational therapy for retarded children—though I doubt it—but it is not art.

“Because I felt like it” is not a definition or validation of anything.-Ayn Rand, "Romantic Manifesto"

There is no place for whim in any human activity—if it is to be regarded as human. There is no place for the unknowable, the unintelligible, the undefinable, the non-objective in any human product. This side of an insane asylum, the actions of a human being are motivated by a conscious purpose; when they are not, they are of no interest to anyone outside a psychotherapist’s office. And when the practitioners of modern art declare that they don’t know what they are doing or what makes them do it, we should take their word for it and give them no further consideration."

The fact that you or Hicks or anyone else doesn't like the idea of non-representational art doesn't alter the fact that it can be beautiful, pleasing and harmonious. If anything illustrates the subjectivity of aesthetic judgment it's people's anger about non-representationalism tainting their ability to see beauty in it.

The emotion of anger in response to a non-representational work held above a great representational work is an emotion I have had. I've had this emotion due to my value judgments, and what I know to be the purpose of art and how much potential is possible.

Anyway, what are your objective criteria that I can use when looking at an image to determine that it is objectively beautiful or ugly -- I mean, without having to ask you about what your judgment is of each specific image? Currently, all that you're doing is merely declaring that your and Hicks' subjective tastes are objective. That really doesn't tell me anything other than that you personally find certain images pleasing and others not.

There are paintings about which you and Hicks will disagree as to whether or not they are beautiful. In such cases, which of you is right? Which of you is objective, and by what standard?

I do not know which artworks Dr.Hicks finds to be most beautiful and enjoyable. I can only think for myself. I would be interested in finding this out though. So, if you do have

any questions perhaps you can ask Dr.Hicks. I would be curious to read what you've learned.

There is no contradiction in two individuals not having the same preference for a representational artwork. Therefore, both observers of an artwork, with a different preference

can both be right. Objectively so.

The objective criteria required to judge whether a painting is beautiful or ugly requires an observer with a sense of sight to perceive the painting, in addition to their value judgments

and of course an object, the painting. This process is objective. I need to see the subject matter.

Edited by brianleepainter

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I disagree. I'm not willing to compromise on the purpose of art and be tolerant to non-representational works.

Then I take it that you are opposed to classifying music, architecture and dance as art, since they are non-representational. Or is there some reason that you're willing to compromise and be tolerant of those non-representational forms?

Doing so, acting on the ideology of subjectivity...

Where did you get the idea that anyone was "acting on the ideology of subjectivity"? To recognize the reality that some jugdments are subjective is not to adopt an ideology of subjectivity. What is an act of subjectivity is attempting to objectify subjective judgments. Subjective judgments don't become objective just because you want them to be.

...in regards to artworks sets the context for the really great works of art to be displayed along side the really bad stuff in a business.

And you think that your notion of "objectivity" would prevent great works of art from being displayed along side "really bad stuff"? Your view is that two different viewers can have two different "objective" judgments of the same work of art. Therefore someone could be "objective" by your standards and display what you think is great art next to what you think is bad art, because he "objectively" disagrees with you that it's "bad art."

In other words, you haven't accomplished anything by calling subjective judgments "objective."

The purpose of art, which is detailed in the articles and works that I assume you have read, is not my opinion but a requirement of man to live and pursue a good life in a relationship with reality.

"The" purpose of art? I think there many purposes of art, and that Rand identified one of the purposes that it can serve.

I'm also assuming you understand what is good for man to live as a man, and what is anti-life, what is a poison. That which is beautiful is a value,good for man. That which is ugly is bad for man, such as a poison.

Um, so, if ugliness is anti-life and the equivalent of poison, does that mean that I should end my relationship with my aunt who is quite ugly, even though she's a nice lady? Wow.

"Works of art—like everything else in the universe—are entities of a specific nature: the concept requires a definition by their essential characteristics, which distinguish them from all other existing entities. The genus of art works is: man-made objects which present a selective recreation of reality according to the artist’s metaphysical value-judgments, by means of a specific material medium."

Then architecture, music and dance are not art. Rand specifically said that architecture "does not recreate reality." And music and dance don't either. They don't meet her requirement of presenting objectively intelligible subjects and meanings. Why are you compromising and tolerating her acceptance of art forms which don't meet her definition and criteria?

There is no place for whim in any human activity—if it is to be regarded as human. There is no place for the unknowable, the unintelligible, the undefinable, the non-objective in any human product.

Music is no more "intelligible" than abstract art. So, if A is A, then until someone identifies the "conceptual language" of music that Rand hoped would one day be discovered, it is not art according to her criteria. Isn't it a "whim" for one to accept art forms as valid when they don't meet one's definition and criteria?

"And when the practitioners of modern art declare that they don’t know what they are doing or what makes them do it, we should take their word for it and give them no further consideration."

What about the practitioners of modern art who declare that they know exactly what they're doing? Kandinsky, for example?

The emotion of anger in response to a non-representational work held above a great representational work is an emotion I have had. I've had this emotion due to my value judgments, and what I know to be the purpose of art and how much potential is possible.

Okay, let me try it this way: If I were to show you an image of an arrangement of non-representational shapes and colors, and if I were to assure you that it was not a work of art, that it was never intended to be, and that it was just a pretty wallpaper design, and you agreed that it was beautiful, would it suddenly become "ugly" in your opinion if I were to tell you that I had lied to you -- that it actually was a work of art, and not just wallpaper?

There is no contradiction in two individuals not having the same preference for a representational artwork. Therefore, both observers of an artwork, with a different preference can both be right. Objectively so.

Is that the way that "objectivity" works now? So, then, I suppose the principle you're using also applies to all other types of judgments, and not just aesthetic ones, and therefore two different people can have different "objective" preferences for, say, different political systems, and both can be right?

The objective criteria required to judge whether a painting is beautiful or ugly requires an observer with a sense of sight to perceive the painting, in addition to their value judgments and of course an object, the painting. This process is objective. I need to see the subject matter.

Well, then, based on my sense of sight and my pro-existence, pro-mankind, pro-individualist values, I hereby objectively judge the overwhelming majority of Modern and Postmodern art to be beautiful.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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I think the important point in Dr.Hicks' article, "Why Art Became Ugly" is his explanation as to the "why" art had become ugly and then showing explicit examples of ugly products that are considered artworks.

Without a standard, as far as I can tell, besides what he felt. I'm not saying that all of what he discussed is art (most of it wasn't), I'm only saying not all of it is *ugly*. Art isn't the only thing that can be beautiful. And I don't even know what's ugly about the Dali painting. "Of course, the major works of the twentieth-century art world are ugly;" Statements like that in his article really ruin it. The article is *about* what is ugly, so he needs to define his terms. It wouldn't have taken much more than two sentences.

Edited by Eiuol

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Regardless of whether it's appropriate to speculate about why Hicks didn't define beauty, I think it makes the article quite ineffective. The Dali painting he linked, why is it ugly anyway? I actually like it because it's kind of silly and dream-like. Without a definition of beauty provided, Hicks is going off a subjective standard.

Do you agree with Jonathan13's definitions of "beauty" and "ugly"?

I'd define "beauty" as that which a person finds to be pleasant or attractive, and "ugly" as that which he finds repulsive or unattractive. I think that beauty and ugliness are subjective judgments, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

These then, again, are Jonathan13's definitions of "beauty" and "ugly":

Beauty - that which a person finds to be pleasant or attractive

Ugly - that which a person finds to be repulsive or unattractive

Jonathan13, obviously, has no contention with those two definitions; they're his definitions.

How about you? Do you accept those two definitions as well?

Either Jonathan13 is correct and "beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's," or he is incorrect.

Do you agree with Jonathan13's statement that "beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's"?

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Do you agree with Jonathan13's statement that "beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's"?

In the thread I linked, I was figuring out whether beauty could be an objective judgment rather than a subjective reaction. What I wrote there is my reasoning on how beauty can be an objective judgment, and what it means for something to be beautiful. Is saying a painting is beautiful the same as saying a painting makes you sad? Or is it like saying a painting is done in two point perspective? One is a subjective reaction (thus not relevant in an objective evaluation about the quality of the work), the other is taking note of a fact. Whatever the case, ugly isn't the same as badly done. Taste and opinion aren't facts and therefore are not relevant in objective evaluation, and if beauty is a matter of taste, it should not be part of an objective evaluation. All Hicks said is that "of course" all of what he linked was ugly and proceeded to explain why, all without a standard besides his own reaction.

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That he is offering an analysis of why art has degenerated as it has. I think that something is badly wrong when trash passes as art, and I want to understand why that has happened. Dr. Hicks has offered his own analysis of the cause. I consider it to be food for thought in my own effort to gain a better understanding of what has taken place. And, I think that trash passing as art relates to your own claim that beauty is subjective. In other words, I think that your own view is at the root of the reason that trash passes as art. You are selling Ellsworth Monkton Toohey; I'm not buying.

I think the opposite is true. Ellsworth Toohey sought to impose his opinions on others, to bend them to his will and make them think as he did. He didn't like maverick individualists who followed their own visions of beauty. He preached obedience to tradition and to safe, established methods of art creation. That is also what Hicks is doing.

"It is not surprising, therefore, to find [Ellsworth Monkton Toohey] with a reputation of "daring," "progressiveness" and "originality." He is all of that, in the sense that the total supremacy of the masses is a new idea in the world and he, as its apostle, may be considered daring or original. In that sense, he is the champion of everything "new," particularly if it helps in the fight against the individualism of the old. He is a great champion of the Art Moderne. He is the defender and publicizer for Gertrude Stein in literature, the "surrealists" in painting, the cacophony of "new" music, and the factory-made standardized modern house in architecture. He knows, half-subconsciously, that all these phony fakes are easy for anyone and deny the true originality, genius and rarity of great artists." Journals of Ayn Rand, p. 108

"Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men. Don't deny the conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept -- and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection.... Don't set out to raze all shrines -- you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity -- and the shrines are razed." Ellsworth Monkton Toohey, The Fountainhead

Beauty, like greatness, is what? It's subjective. Beauty, dear sir, is in the "eye of the beholder"; there are no objective standards of beauty. If a man finds himself attracted to some thing, why, that thing is beautiful to him. Why all the fuss? I like chocolate; you like vanilla. I think this is beautiful; you think it's ugly. What one man finds beautiful may not be beautiful to the other fella, but so what, again, there are no objective standards of beauty; all judgements of beauty are equally subjective and therefore equally valid. Beauty, after all, is a "subjective judgment; there are no objective criteria to support anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's.

Do you think that declaring that one's aesthetic tastes and opinions are objective somehow makes them more worthy of being considered? When you and I disagree about a work of art, would you seriously find it persuasive if I were to assert that my aesthetic judgments are purely objective, that yours are not, and that my tastes are therefore objectively superior to yours?

Do I think that declaring that one's esthetic tastes and opinions are objective somehow makes them more worthy of being considered? No, not if one's declaration is arbitrary or false.

You didn't answer my question: Given that, in your view, beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to suport anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's, why should anyone consider your opinion(s) on beauty and ugliness?

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You didn't answer my question: Given that, in your view, beauty and ugliness are subjective judgements, and that there are no objective criteria to suport anyone's claims that their tastes and opinions on the subject are more "objective" than anyone else's, why should anyone consider your opinion(s) on beauty and ugliness?

Hicks seems to think beauty is subjective, whether or not he acknowledged it. He just took it as obvious what is ugly, saying that his premises are not arguable. That's an intrinsic approach, and a bad approach. It is *not* obvious to me that the Dali painting is ugly.

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Hicks seems to think beauty is subjective, whether or not he acknowledged it. He just took it as obvious what is ugly, saying that his premises are not arguable. That's an intrinsic approach, and a bad approach. It is *not* obvious to me that the Dali painting is ugly.

I don't think he did call that painting ugly. He identified it as an example of a painting which disconnects the world of the artwork from objective reality, by depicting a shifting, warped, dreamlike environment. He identifies this type of painting with a movement among artists (reductionism) to identify the essence of painting by removing elements which are not specific to painting. I don't know whether or not this is true, but if so, it strikes me as a meaningless and ridiculous enterprise.

However, it is not apparent to me from looking at the Dali painting that that is what Dali was trying to accomplish (perhaps it is apparent from looking at Dali's statements about his painting, I don't know). As it stands, I find the painting very intriguing, and not at all ugly. I think that that style of painting can be used appropriately and to incredible effect in several different contexts. For instance, I recently attended a display of Dali's series of paintings depicting Dante's Divine Comedy. I found his surrealist approach to be an incredibly effective way of concretizing Dante's fictional journey. Considering the subject matter of the paintings is itself a somewhat fantastical and supernatural story, it effectively communicated (to me at least) the feeling of being 'along for the ride,' so to speak. If you take paintings like these to be a statement that the world is just as unintelligible and confusing as the world of these paintings, then I could see how you would not like the message, but I don't think that's the only possible intended message from a style like that.

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