August 24, 2016

Summer Musing: How Beautiful!


Oscar Wilde took in 1881 (he was twenty-seven years old at that time) the boat to the United Stated on his mission to spread beauty in the country of industrialisation. In his Lecture for Art Students he told the students not to copy beauty but to create beauty in their art. He was kind of pre-Duchamp because he told them not to lean on "ready-made beauty." Wilde had also some simple advice for the viewer of art: “All pictures that do no immediately give you such artistic joy as to make you say ‘How beautiful!’ are bad pictures.” In 1964, an equally young Susan Sontag continued along that line in Against Interpretation -  a manifesto against the killing of the art work by wanting to nail it down to a “what does it mean?” It's a simple truth, isn't it, but the level of feeling and experiencing in the understanding of art seems often to be ignored or muffled away. Here, for your convenience, are Oscar Wilde's guidelines to express feelings when looking at pictures:

- for archeological pictures: "How curious!"

- for sentimental pictures: "How sad!"
- for historical pictures: "How interesting!"
- for all pictures: "How beautiful!"

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