art, beauty, kara walker


With all due respect to the legions who argue otherwise, it is totally bogus to claim that art is about beauty or that the two are even connected. Goya’s stupendous Saturn Devouring His Children isn’t beautiful, nor is Duchamp’s bottle rack, or Thomas Hirschhorn’s recent blood-and-modernism installation. Over time these works may alter definitions of beauty, but it’s an oversimplification to say that art and beauty are innately bound. It’s as empty, dogmatic, patronizing, misleading, and limiting as saying art is about sincerity, wonderment, or any other absolute value.

Keats was wrong: Beauty isn’t truth, or truth beauty. Saying art is about beauty is like saying “I’m for children.” Everyone loves beauty; Nazis loved beauty; Osama loves beauty. As painter Allison Taylor recently wrote, “Reducing art to beauty hides vacant thoughts; it can be used as propaganda, to decorate mini-mansions, and crowd out art that is harder to deal with.”

more from Salz at The Village Voice here.