Beauty's Place in our Time
My world is
the world of objects, of inner musing made real, a world of things
not necessarily coming from ideas. Yet, there are thoughts and
ideas that have been extremely important to me through the years.
One is Beauty. This word, at least in the art world, has been
out of favor for a good part of this century. I would like to
see its reintroduction into the modern world with the understanding
that Beauty, like love, has the power to change things. It can
also help us make decisions and unite the disparate elements in
has our time turned away from Beauty?
Why have we been party to the catastrophic destruction of culture
and nature in this century? In our rush to idealize what we thought
was the scientific, rational approachour wish to harness naturewe
turned away from those concepts not easily explained in scientific
terms, such as spirit, love and beauty. Albert Einstein has characterized
our age as being one of "perfection of means, confusion of aims."
In my late teens, I was doing two kinds of paintings.
One kind was by most standards, grotesquepeople contorted, things
out of shape. I realized that these works did not give me pleasure
to do, so I decided not to do them anymore. I made up my mind, I am
not sure why, to follow Beauty. I also decided not to try and define
Beauty. I find now that I will often do a work, and in my mind say
that it is not beautiful, yet a year or so later realize that it is.
I learn from making the art object and my work tells me new things
I call Beauty is far from what we call pretty. A plastic rose
no matter how well fashioned can never be beautiful; it can only
grow dusty. It is the full cycle of life of a real rose that gives
it its beauty. Knowing that it wilts and dies is the essence of
its wonder. Mozart's music is beautiful because there is within
the wonderful melody both the pathos and the joy of being human.
must contain within it not just the sunshine but the shadows.
And an art that contains only the darkness
leads only downward. It is in that precarious balance at the edge
of heaven and hell that the power of Beauty lies.
can be a guide in helping us put together a complex world and be a
tool to help us make changes for the better. Our particular time in
history is marked by indecision and misdirected efforts, not only
in the technical fields but also in such diverse worlds as politics,
architecture, philosophy, and culture. We are unsure about life, why
we are here, or even how to make a decision about what we value most.
We begin to sense that even those paths laid out by science and technology
may not take us where we wish to be. Beauty can be the arbiter of
may not be the "way" but it can help us in choosing the
"how." At the present time, we have a great many tools and
technical know-how to make a new world: everything from stainless
steel hip bones to sustainable houses and cities. But how do we relate
these things to life and each other so that they truly serve life?
It is here that a sense of Beauty and balance can help us give form
and meaning to what otherwise would be scattered possibilities. Einstein
says, "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.
it is the emotion which stands at the cradle of the True Art and True
is a connection of beauty, both inner and outer, to love.
Both can open up within us feelings that
seem to be outside of fear. Putting aside fear even for a moment begins
to change things. Somehow beauty and love awaken that part in us that
allows us to be ourselves. I have come to call this, "to give
light." It can come through an individual or a work of art. It
is very much one human reaching to another and allowing for the wholeness
of the other.
believe we underrate even our traditional concept of beauty. Why is
nature so prolific in endowing its creations with magic of form, color,
and diversity? Is it merely for competition and procreation? Or does
the beauty of the flower or an Indian maiden dressed in her beaded
buckskin change the rules of the game? Is beauty perhaps the physical
manifestation of love? Does Beauty open the door and allow Love in?
years ago, we built a small house for some friends. It is used for
counseling. It was designed specifically for inner healing. A great
deal of effort was put into how it would be experienced...the entering
of it was by a falling sculptural space with a surprising light within.
All because we believe that space and light can transform our understanding
of who we are and what life is about.
is my hope that we are rediscovering Beauty. Not the "pretty"
of the 19th century or the ugliness of this century, but a robust
kind of Beauty that accepts the intertwining of chaos and order,
and of darkness and light...one that guides and transforms life
because it sees life as a whole. Can we learn to put a sense of
Beauty to work for us?
Hubbell is an internationally recognized artist and architect. Visit
his web site to view examples of his artistic vision and his public
projects designed to feed the soul.
reprinted by permission of Vision Magazine, a San
Diego, California-based monthly. For more information, call 619/294-2393
or log on at www.vision-magazine.com.
Invoking the Muse
a blessing poem
the Greek muses
an article about aesthetics