Turn and face the strange changes...
So similarly, humankind went through a tidal shift in 2020 with movements of the times (BLM, our country divided, MeeToo and so on), just as humans did with this singular word aesthetic once again in the 1800’s. It was on the lips of world from town to town!
The eighteenth-century debate between rationalists and "theorists of taste" (or "sentimentalists," as they’re called now) was primarily a debate over the "immediacy thesis", i.e., over whether we judge objects to be beautiful by applying principles of beauty to them or not.
My family remembers at three years of age I said I wanted to be an artist and an inventor. My earliest memories as a two and three year old was of knowing that one day I wanted to pursue art and I couldn't wait to get better as quickly as I could! As soon as I could read I read about the fascinating inventions of Leonardo DaVinci and was just knocked out of my chair. I wanted to be just like him and fly off a roof into a bail of hay, trying to fly with something I invented! I made a sculpture of him doing it for a school project and got an A+ in the third grade. I stayed up all night making it perfect, to honor my hero. One of the only academics I thrived at was art, where I was tested as an artistic savant. I wouldn’t thrive again in academia until conservatory 20 years later where I graduated top of my class, having dropped out of high school to get my GED and rush off to conservatory (what this says about standardized testing is another blog post waiting in the wings).
Somehow, I always knew that I, more than most, knew what was beautiful. I studied its' parameters, guidelines and boundaries. I became not just a creator of art, but also a master of objective analysis and critique. How does this relate to me as a contemporary artist? It means that to me, beauty was being refined and sharpened down to an absolute. Lines, while we don't want to admit it, are being drawn. Not by what serves me best but what the collective perceives. Some things are obviously good and some aren’t as good. It’s now acceptable for the standards to change and evolve with the times and we know that we will know more, later.
Big business has picked up on this too. Old logos used to be function over form. Now they are more and more form over function. This age old adage is highly debated with architects and designers of all kinds, world round. The Nike check that means to "just do it," just get up and tackle it so it shall be done, defines and age of branding. That message, that meaning, is a powerful story. It means a great deal to all of history, not just when it was copywritten as a slogan, but for thousands of years to human beings throughout history. We can relate to the story of highly motivated action and achievement, can't we! Especially the underdogs like you and I. Social construct beauty, like that portrayed in emaciated Barbie dolls, has shaped what it is to BE beautiful in a modern age too. A story that is still unraveling everyday, for better or for worse.