Jan 10, 2005

Chapter 70

On Beauty, through the centuries

In truth, the Greeks named the world after ornament, for the diversity of the elements and the beauty of the stars. Their way of calling it is Kosmos, which means ornament. For nothing more beautiful than the world may be seen with the eyes.

- Isidore of Seville (560-636 A.D.)

Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought, as doth eternity. When old age shall this generation waste, thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats (1820)

Three qualities are required for Beauty. In the first place, integrity or perfection, since incomplete things, precisely because they are incomplete, are deformed. Due proportion or harmony among the parts is also required. Finally, clarity or splendor: in fact we describe things whose colours are clear and brilliant as beautiful.

- Thomas Aquinas (thirteenth century)

The painter is master of all things that may come to man’s mind, and so if he wishes to see beauties of which he may become enamored he has the power to make them… that which is present in the universe in essence, presence or imagination he has first in mind, and then in his hands, and these are of such excellence that, as they make things, they create a proportioned harmony as instantly apparent as the harmony of nature.

- Leonardo da Vinci (1498)

I have always believed that good is none other than Beauty in action, that the one is inextricably bound up with the other and that both have a common source… a soul open to the seduction of the virtues must be sensitive in like measure to all other kinds of Beauty.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1761)

Beauty is indeed an expression of freedom, but not a freedom that raises us above the power of nature, to release us from all physical influences; it is rather the expression of that freedom we enjoy within nature. We feel free in the presence of Beauty because our instincts are in harmony with the law of reason, for here the spirit acts as if trammeled by no laws other than its own.

Friedrich von Schiller (1801)

I have the certainty that the supreme act of reason, the one in which it encompasses the totality of ideas, is an aesthetic act, and that truth and goodness are intimately merged only in Beauty.

- Georg Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel (1821)

‘Tis the melodious hue of beauty thrown

Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain

Which humanize and harmonize the strain.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1819)

When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind. In our minds, there is an awareness of perfection. We respond to beauty with emotion. Beauty speaks a message to us…. All artwork is about beauty; all positive work represents it and celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives…

- Agnes Martin (1989)

…All your conditioning has been directed toward intellectual living.   This is useless in artwork… Our emotional life is really dominant over our intellectual life, but we do not realize it

- Agnes Martin (1989)

If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.

- Frank Lloyd Wright (1945)

Give unto them beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise

for the spirit of heaviness.

- Isaiah 61:3 (525 B.C.)

In a world of ugliness and horror,

it is the creators of beauty who are the true revolutionaries.
- Phil Ochs (folk singer)

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