Why Beauty Matters
Ella Schulze interning at East West Fine Art Gallery
Community School of Naples Junior Ella Schulze has a passion for art and a mission to re-establish beauty as art’s true purpose. Ella interned at East West Fine Art this summer and has written an essay on the fundamental subject: Why Beauty Matters.
Leeza Arkhangelskaya, owner of East West Fine Art Gallery is a graduate of Community School herself. Both women credit the high school’s great art program as being instrumental in their decisions to study and work in the sphere of art.
Owner Olga Arkhangelskaya with intern Ella Schulze, and owner Leeza Arkhangelskaya
Why Beauty Matters
by Ella Schulze
Philosopher and writer, Roger Scruton, asks questions about beauty and its significance. It is his and other philosophers’ job to understand our nature as spiritual beings. To his belief, our world has turned its back on beauty, creating a spiritual desert. Human language, manners, and modes of self-expression have become corrupt since the start of the twentieth century. Beauty is seen as unimportant, and swarms of disturbing art have created a cult of ugliness. The loss of beauty has resulted in a loss of meaning in life itself. Scruton believes that beauty should be valued just as much as truth and goodness. It acts as a remedy for chaos and brings affirmation in joy. A pivotal moment marking the loss of beauty in art was Marcel Duchamp’s signed urinal. It was a satirical piece with the intent to mock the current period of art. Other artists of the time took it as an approval that anything could be deemed art. Consequently, a herd of artists followed Duchamp’s lead and created “non-art.” This ranged from the action of turning a light on and off, to feces in a can, to a simple pile of bricks. These pieces show that art had been reduced to nothing but a simple gesture. There was no more need for creativity, for anybody could now be an artist. Artists were now inspired by their belief in the negativity of the world. From their understanding, this disturbing world calls for a need for disturbing art. In their eyes, finding beauty meant you were out of touch with reality.
In my opinion, their art does not show reality but takes revenge on it. By prioritizing usefulness over beauty, they lost both. If they would choose to prioritize beauty, what they do would be useful. Modern architecture is a great example of this. Many buildings have no use because people shun them due to their dreadful appearance. Many of these artists’ primary goals are to create a brand for themselves. Careless work is turned in for the sole purpose of making a profit. Their creativity has completely declined. Rather than endorsing this decline, we need to return to the path that led us to appreciate beauty in the first place.
From my perspective, modern art often tunes out the pure joy and light that life offers by focusing solely on the negativity in the world. Many artists also seem to create pieces for the sole purpose of coordinating with home decor. There is no true life seen on the canvas anymore. It feels as though we have lost our ability to create meaningful pieces to show future generations, whereas Russia in the 20th century had distinct styles of art representing each decade. For example, the 1900s used symbolism to express their inner emotions and spiritual truths. The 30s utilized realism to depict the life of a Soviet, with communism glorified. Following World War II in the 40s, the many challenges that the Russians endured were expressed with paintings showing patriotism and sacrifice. Our current generation has no movement that resonates with our surrounding lives. There is a strong sense of urgency and a demand for change in modern art. Art should be an inspiration for the life around us. If our art could regain meaning, it could mend the mess that many current artists have created.