Monday, November 12, 2012

monday thoughts: in defense of pretty

Night Blooming Cereus by Sally Mann

There are so many ways to label art. Is it fine art? decorative? One of the worst things you can say about a work of art is that it's pretty. Pretty art gets dismissed. Pretty art is boring. In other words, if it's not ugly or provocative, it's not important—it's not real art.

Well, I reject that. Art can be pretty. These works are interesting and also just plain beautiful:

Blue Horse by Lily Stockman
(see also Susan Rothenberg's horses)
Desert Night by Sean Scully
Sunflower by Chuck Close
White Center by Mark Rothko
Interaction of Color by Josef Albers

Clearly these show my own preference—my own definition of "pretty." (And of "interesting," for that matter. These are all contemporary or mid 20th century, periods that I'm most drawn to. As my husband just pointed out, "It's interesting that so many people object to modern and abstract art. In some ways it's far more accessible than some 17th=century baroque work that's filled with religious symbols." ) But just to show you another kind of "pretty," here's a beautiful painting by Caravaggio (the epitome of baroque):

Basket of Fruit
(admittedly a very modern, minimalist baroque painting)

My point is that the two qualities can go hand in hand.

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