This Art Collector Set is designed to get us thinking about beauty and the roles it has (or doesn't have) in art and life. Each slide features an image of Beauty, a sculpture by artist Jack Pierson, accompanied by statements by artists, writers, philosophers, and historical figures. The quotes are divergent and even contradictory at times, representing a variety of individual viewpoints and a range of historical and cultural contexts. This demonstrates how slippery the term "beauty" is when we try to pin it down with definitions or generalizations.
AUDIENCES: This Set serves any art patron wrestling with questions such as, "Should art be beautiful?" or, "What is the role of beauty in art or life?" Rather than providing direct answers, this Set approaches the topic in a speculative, poetic way to encourage the reader's independent, critical thought. This Set could be used in a middle school, high school, or college level visual arts course. In addition to visual arts, this Set could be a relevant resource for studying the humanities, language arts, art history, art appreciation, or philosophy, specifically aesthetics.
CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATION: Students read the quotes aloud to their peers, taking turns around the classroom. Depending on students' language abilities and historical knowledge, the educator may choose to facilitate deep reading of each quote to unpack meanings. Since each slide contains three quotes, the class could pause at each slide and vote on which statement they believe is closest to the truth and why. (Alternative: Which statement they disagree with most strongly and why.) The educator could then moderate a brief classroom discussion for each slide, giving students opportunity to defend their choices.
ACTIVITIES: Attached to this Set are two activity ideas suggesting ways to engage students more deeply in their understanding of beauty, aesthetics, and art. The activities are sketched out as suggestions rather than fully developed lesson plans.
CUSTOMIZATION: Feel free to customize this Set. As a registered user of ArtsConnectEd, first duplicate this Set to make a copy in your account, then edit its contents using Art Collector.
The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never.
Beauty only happens once.
Beauty is not caused. It is.
Beauty is embarrassing.
Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute a glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
Beauty is whatever gives joy.
—Edna St. Vincent Millay
The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist cries with terror before being defeated.
There is no exquisite beauty . . . without some strangeness in the proportion.
—Edgar Allan Poe
To emphasize only the beautiful seems to me to be like a mathematical system that only concerns itself with positive numbers.
Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance.
By its very nature the beautiful is isolated from everything else. From beauty no road leads to reality.
The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.
—Louisa May Alcott
Mud, rubbish, and dirt are man's companions all his life; shouldn't they be precious to him, and isn't one doing man's service to remind him of their beauty?
The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.
I threw the bottle rack and the urinal in their faces and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty.
The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
All existing things are really one. We regard those that are beautiful and rare as valuable, and those that are ugly as foul and rotten. The foul and rotten may come to be transformed into what is rare and valuable, and the rare and valuable into what is foul and rotten.
—attributed to Chuang Tzu
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.
Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.
Nonsense and beauty have close connections.
—E. M. Forster
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
Think of beauty still left around you and be happy.
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.
It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.
Beauty awakens the soul to act.