Beauty is the purpose of Art

TITIAN

Assumption of the Virgin 1518
Assumption of the Virgin 1518

THE PAINTINGS IN MY HOME

I want share some of the paintings in my home and here are a few examples. They are all copies, of course. Above is a photo of one of my favorite paintings, which is a replica of an alterpiece created by Titian in Venice, Italy. The painting in my home is the original size—13 feet tall.

I am not fond of much art that has been produced in the 20th Century. I believe art has lost its way. I am not a trained art critic but I have always known art I loved the minute I first saw it. Most of my life I never questioned why this was. Now, late in life, I have begun an investigation to try to discern why I love the art I love—and why most of the art of last 100 years or so just doesn't do it for me.

Giovanni Bellini

Madonna with Child Blessing 1464
Madonna with Child Blessing 1464

Beauty was the purpose of Art

Beauty was the purpose of art before the 20th Century. In the past 100 years or so, art has change completely and its new goal is to create the unbeautiful—to disturb, shock, subvert and transgress in increasingly original ways. In fact, the beautiful art that has been created, such as by Thomas Kinkaid and Norman Rockwell, has been laughed at by art critics—who are animated by an entirely different spiritual force—as pure kitsch. Scenes of beauty give way to scenes of destruction and sacrilege. I believe there remains a great hunger in the human soul for beauty in art. Just compare "Piss Christ" with the painting above, which hangs in my living room.

Giovanni Bellini

St. Francis in Ecstasy 1480
St. Francis in Ecstasy 1480

The desecration

The postmodern theme of critically praised art is to desecrate and despoil what it means to be a living loving human being alive in the world. All of the sacred things we held dear in the world are to be destroyed through the spirit of modern art, in particular anything held to be Holy—set apart for God. We can see this spirit in film (only in the last 50 years) with its focus on rampant sex, violence, gore, the objectification of women—as objects instead of as women created in the Image of God—and the ridicule of people who believe in God as superstitious rubes.

LEONARDO DA VINCI

THE LAST SUPPER 1498
THE LAST SUPPER 1498

The Purpose of Art

The purpose of art is beauty, truth, goodness, and transcendence; to create joy in the recipient. The Creator of the Universe granted Humankind the gift to mimic His omnipotent creativity (as well as recreate His gift of producing life itself! by reproducing ourselves—another gift we honored as sacred for thousands of years that we now flush down the toilet—the most incredible, amazing, astounding gift humans possess. Think carefully about it before you laugh, you who are not yet convinced, and you scoffers: YOU can produce another YOU).

MICHELANGELO

God touches Adam 1511
God touches Adam 1511

Recreation is our greatest gift

Below is my favorite sculpture ever created. Out a block of marble this image came forth. Michelangelo said that this image was already present—the word means gift—in the block of marble and all he had to do was reveal it to us.

MICHELANGELO

PIETA 1499
PIETA 1499

Renaissance artists

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Comments 71 comments

mdawson17 7 years ago

I like this hub James it gives an expression of your personal self very expressive hub!!!

mdawson17


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

mdawson17— Thank you very much for being the first to approve of my new direction. My thinking was that this topic would lower the temperature from my previous blog posts, which, though I did not foresee it, were apparently controversial.


Douglas D. Schumann 7 years ago

Fantastic, James!

Doug


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Hi James - everyone's taste in art is personal. For example, I have never liked the Titian work that heads this hub. The Michelangelo sculpture is great and my Sistine Chapel visit is still fresh in my memory after many years. Also on that visit, I went to a Caravaggio exhibition. He's among my all time favourites. I'd prefer to say that beauty is one of the purposes of art. Throughout history, art has been used for many purposes. I am with you in regretting the sensationalist version of modernity typified by the Turner Prize, but I still see a great deal of beauty in much of the art being produced today. All is not lost :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Douglas— Thank you very much!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Paraglider— Thank you for visiting and for your comments. I agree with you. Art is personal. Like you, my visit to the Sistine Chapel a few years ago left an enormous impression on me. Caravaggio was certainly an incredible artist. He was a wild dude but he could surely paint and he was creative to beat the band.


Nemingha profile image

Nemingha 7 years ago

I'm not particularly enamoured with any of your artistic choices but, as always, I enjoy reading what you have to say. Thanks.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Nemingha— You are welcome and thank you for checking it out and responding.


MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 7 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

Your taste is impeccable:) I'm an extreme lamen when it comes to art. I've only recently found it interesting (at age 32) because I never thought about the artist, or the story behind the art. Now it "grabs" me, as it does you. I certainly cannot afford a Michaelangelo painting, but I do buy prints and paintings that make ME happy. Things that I understand. I also enjoy affirmation plaques, I have many of them. Like the AA Serenity prayer (not only because I've lived around addicts my entire life but because change has to do with life, period, not just an addiction), and several other short phrases that keep me smiling and positive.

Thanks for the little art lesson here, I enjoyed it very much:)


RooBee profile image

RooBee 7 years ago from Here

Great hub, James. Thanks for sharing these fantastic works. I love the St. Francis in Ecstasy - the light is incredible! I have heard that Michaelangelo saw the work that existed within the rock, and "merely" chipped away the excess. It's mind boggling to even look upon his works, let alone in the context of thinking about the way he personally viewed it.

I too have found myself frustrated with the stigmatization of art that is beautiful just for beauty's sake. It guess its not 'cool' but it will always be timeless. In a thousand years, the ironic, angsty, hip art may lose its relevance but a thing of beauty is a classic across the ages.

Thanks so much for sharing!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

MissJamieD— I appreciate the compliment and encouragement. I wasn't into art, save for music, when I was younger either. But I grew to love it more and more for the beauty and joy it contributes to the world. And you are welcome, too.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

RooBee— Thank you and you are welcome! My copy of the St. Francis is 8 feet by 5 feet—so you could say I love it, too! :-)

You made an astute observation of the timelessness of beautiful art. And I am glad you did.


Larry Lathrop profile image

Larry Lathrop 7 years ago from Maryland

Michelangelo certainly had few rivals. Being the connoisseur that you are; is the anecdote true, concerning striking his completed image of Moses on the knee with a hammer and saying... "I command you to speak"?


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Larry— I had not heard this anecdote but I do not doubt it. Thanks for taking a look at my Hubs.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Just beautiful. I really appreciate art so this was divine. Thanks James. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

blondepoet— Thank you for your gracious words. I am glad you stopped to take a look and enjoyed what you saw. And you are welcome.


lefseriver 7 years ago

I agree with you that art is for beauty. Have you read "How shall we then live?" by Francis Shaeffer? Nice hub.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Thank you for reading and commenting. I have indeed read that book and watched the film by the same name. I have many other books written by Francis as well. Several of my close friends were at L'Abri. Schaeffer is a great seer.


Madame X 7 years ago

Perhaps you've heard the comment by Buckminster Fuller? He said, "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong." I wouldn't say that beauty is the purpose of art but a by-product of the energy that flows through an artist as he is working. The more the artist can get himself out of the way, the more beautiful the work. Just a thought. . .


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Madame X— Thank you for the insight. And, oh yes, I am quite familiar with Bucky!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

I think some people like art for beauty, but the production of art has been an expression of religion, politics, and art for hire. Dick Dale, the fabulous guitarist (father of surf music) said about art 'I want to make you feel how I feel' I really liked that.

the paintings that you feature in this hub are beautiful. Did you ever check out old masterpiece work for sale? I've always thought of the old masters as producing beauty but there was some downright ugly stuff there.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Dolores Monet— Thanks for your thoughtful comments here. Art is used for many purposes, to be sure. I loved Dick Dale's guitar playing, too.


J.Stump profile image

J.Stump 7 years ago from USA

art should incite riots


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Why?


J.Stump profile image

J.Stump 7 years ago from USA

not physical ones, but when you look at a true piece of art, it should create momentum inside of you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

OH! I thought you meant riots such as in Watts back in 1965. :D


J.Stump profile image

J.Stump 7 years ago from USA

nah just momentum the core of life, but i dig what your doing here man. keep being awesome


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Thank you very much!


Will Kelly 7 years ago

It is all very simple really. The sacred vacated art at the time of the Enlightenment because it generally doesn't stay where it is not wanted,... even before that indeed, when humanism reached its apogee at the end of the Renaissance and man got too big for his boots. The sacred, being what art was meant to serve, having been banished from the universe, the art world and the shrewdies who run it had nothing left but aimless inventiveness (Picasso et al) to worship and gimmickry or novelty which is where art has pitched its tent for the forseeable future. On the back of that of course is ego-mania. The artist now elects to walk in the Messianic sandals brandishing his brush of self-delusion with utter conviction aided and abetted from the wings in the manner of Don Quixote egged on by faithful dependent Sancho Panza. Ergo, your successful 'artist' today is an ego-maniac hell bent in upsetting people with the novel or the plain revolting in order to make a name for himself and keep his supporters and himself laughing all the way to the bank. Your granny's fireside embroidered hankie is closer to the meaning and purpose of art than Mr.Hirst and his ilk and all their overpriced vacuous works.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Will Kelly— A brilliant analysis. Where were you when I needed you?!

Thank you for reading and your extraordinary commentary.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

I agree with you and Paraglider that art is very personal. I can see that you tend towards classical and religious art. Like you, The Pieta is also my favorite sculpture.

I have a very simplistic criterion on art. If the work moves me and I can say "wow!" then I love it. Then I take a 2nd or 3rd or nth look at the piece and when I can still say "wow!" - then I'm hooked forever.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

jill of alltrades— Your criterion is identical to mine, word for word. Thank you for viewing and commenting. And The Pieta—I have spent a lot of time enjoying it and it never gets old.


caoshub profile image

caoshub 7 years ago from Portugal

Hi, this is the post I was telling you about: I really like to know that there are still people that enjoy the classics, and are not bored of them. Take a look at my vision of the art evolution over the years: I wrote it in an article called "The Purpose of Art Changed". This was actually inspired in this article of yours. Because Beauty was the purpose of art. Nowadays it is no longer...


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

caoshub— I love the classics. I read your article referred to above and it was very good. All of your Hubs looked good. Let's continue to get the message out that beautiful art is good for the soul. Thanks for your commentary.


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

I thoroughly enjoy all you share James. Your home seems as filled with awe and inspiration as the Louvre - how do you ever leave?

I believe your assessment of the masterpieces vs. today’s art is accurate in many ways. There is even a difference in definitions of art from today and decades ago. Today’s primarily: a “human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.” Yesteryear’s: “human contrivance or ingenuity, as in adapting natural things to man’s use.” In the past, most masterpieces were commissioned based on the artist's degree of skill and experience. These days, most art is churned out with an emphasis on production, pieces being sold after the fact with their value based on PR (little of which reaches the artist).

I would however, beg to differ that all created in the last 100 years lacks glory. I have a piece by Anthony Casay that is so gorgeous and real, I swear one can hear the ocean’s thunderous power. There is such a depth that every slight change in lighting seems to move the wave rhythmically. Clearly, not the same as celebrating the natural emotions as a loving, living human being, but instilling joy and awe none-the-less.

We represented an artist in Hawaii who was third generation portrait artist. Recognizing how poor his predecessors were, he eventually turned to the more generically appealing ocean scenes. My choice was to purchase one of his earlier works of a male hula dancer, so real others would hide it in the gallery closet to avoid its watchful eyes. (Mona Lisa style) One can feel his humility as he honors and praises the glory of God. You are right, there is a difference.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

SEM Pro— Thank you for viewing some of my art, the nice compliment, and the fine commentary. I don't leave home nearly as much as I used to—before I started Hubbing. :D

I had not heard of Anthony Casay. I appreciate you telling me about him. I just went to his web site and his paintings are very beautiful. I bookmarked it so I can study the paintings more leisurely later.

No doubt fine art is still produced—Thank God.


newsworthy 7 years ago

A 13 foot work of art is a massive covering at home. You must be cheerfully surrounded in beauty even in your shorts!

Without being too fleshly, how do you have the painting of the Assumption mounted?


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

newsworthy— It is mounted with two L shaped thingamajigs anchored into the wall . . . oh, what do they call those things behind the wall that occur here and there?  Not beams . . .

It must be anchored near the top as well but whatever they put up there is not visible.  All I can see is the two supports under the bottom.  It is in a massive frame and very heavy. I hired someone to install.  So, I guess I don't know! (After all that) 

I am cheerfully surrounded in beauty in my shorts!  That is true.


gusripper profile image

gusripper 7 years ago

I sugest that one of the best painters is HIERONYMOUS BOSH,the guy made thrillers.You might change some thoughts about painting


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

gusripper— I absolutely agree with you.  I used a Bosch as the featured painting in one of my other Hubs, "The Last Judgment."  Excellent comment.  Thanks.


chandanakumarct profile image

chandanakumarct 7 years ago from Bangalore

Excellent Collection James. I am much impressed on this hub.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

chandanakumarct — Thank you for saying so. It is a warm pleasure to see this beauty every day. It changes a person.


chandanakumarct profile image

chandanakumarct 7 years ago from Bangalore

Yeap. Perfectly said james. I have bookmarked it and check it once in day :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

chandanakumarct— Beautiful! Thank you!


Sarah 7 years ago

James...

Fantastique! I particularly liked this line:

"YOU can produce another YOU!"

Yes, indeed ;)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Sarah— Yes, indeed.  I appreciate your accolades very much.  Thank you for the visit!


Kym 7 years ago

MICHELANGELO is my favorite, "God touches Adam" There is such beauty in his brush strokes. He captures the human body like no other in my opinion.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Kym— I agree with you. And the Pieta! Unbelievable. I have seen it and the Sistine Chapel in person and this is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Thank you for visiting and leaving your thoughtful comments.


jiberish profile image

jiberish 7 years ago from florida

Again, Great!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

jiberish— Thank you again! I don't know why, but I didn't get notification of this comment until 5 days after you made it. hmmm . . .


Wild cherry 7 years ago

Beautiful hub, and I agree, recreation is our greatest gift.. The god given spirit in us is always ready for work and creation, it is us that don't always realize that and we spend ourselves in meaningless activities. I like the idea of Muses, that the ancient greeks had - the inspirations that appeared in the form of a woman giving the artist the chance to express himself :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Wild Cherry— Thank you very much. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! I have been inspired by women all my born days, to create beauty and to sing the blues. :D

I appreciate the visitation. This is one of my favorite Hubs.


spiritactor profile image

spiritactor 7 years ago from Los Angeles

Yes-- "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

Yet, to me, there are real elements that go into constituting a perception of "beauty" in art for anyone: composition, use of light and dark for effect, use of colors for temperature and drama, clarity of purpose, and an evident mastery of the tools to accomplish it.

As I believe art to be a "light" shown onto what many believe to be a mystery-- the subject illuminated may not be perceived as "beautiful", but its presentation CAN be. "Beauty" is defined as an experience often involving the interpretation of some entity or object as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. That's subjective. to me, a more universal definition might be "any experience that evokes deep emotions that yields a balance between your inner self and your perceptions outside of yourself, allowing you to feel moved."

Fascinating thoughts presented here! Thanks for the hub!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

spiritactor— Welcome the Hub Pages Community. I am honored to receive such an accomplished guest here. My sister is an off-Broadway actress living in the Village. I am a musician.

I love your commentary. As an artist, you surely have a fine grasp on the beauty of art. I am quite pleased you posted your remarks here. They add clarity and illumination. Thank you! And you're welcome. Also, your stage name, spiritactor, couldn't be better.


Taylor Finch profile image

Taylor Finch 7 years ago from United Kingdom

Wow, some beautiful choices!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago Author

Taylor Finch— Welcome to HubPages! I just read your first Hub and it is excellent. Thanks for your compliment.


blabak profile image

blabak 6 years ago

very2 awesome...


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

blabak— Thank you very much! Welcome to the Hub Pages Community.


aefrancisco profile image

aefrancisco 6 years ago from somewhere down the road

Thanks so much for sharing ...

Love it!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

aefrancisco— You are welcome and I thank you!


Zubyre profile image

Zubyre 6 years ago from East London

seems that you must have a pleasant living room, by the looks of things!

good hub, i share these sentiments about art, as well.

yeah, postmodernism just reduces everything to irony and meaninglessness alot of times.

Regards,

Zub

http://hubpages.com/hub/What-is-Beautifull


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Zubyre— It is quite pleasant indeed, my friend. I am well pleased to find a kindred spirit. Thank you very much for visiting my Hub. I appreciate your comments as well. I'll be over to read your Hub soon. I welcome you to the Hub Pages Community.

James


Ebower profile image

Ebower 5 years ago from Georgia

Sorry to say but yes, our culture values more of the unique and shocking and not the pure and beautiful. I miss that sentiment.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Ebower— Thank you for visiting my Hub. I appreciate your insightful comments. I agree with you 100 percent, though I lament this development.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Oh James - Thank you for these magnificent works of art. I especially like Pieta, it touches me internally, spiritually. I am thrilled to find this type of hub and will bookmark it to come back to when I need inspiration.I appreciate this beautiful hub and I appreciate my beautiful James!

May this season as well as all seasons bring you joy, love and everlasting peace.

vocalcoach~


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

vocalcoach— You are quite welcome. It is a pleasure to hear from you again. The Pieta is undoubtedly my favorite, too.

I hope you had a fine Thanksgiving weekend, and I wish you a Merry Christmas this year too. I very much appreciate your gracious compliments, and the bookmark. Thank you for coming by to visit and for this encouraging note. :-)

James


penofone profile image

penofone 4 years ago

The modern art that is represented throughout the world is really just a rehash of the type of art that is in your home. It isn't just the idea that people would like to bring their heart and soul into it, it is partly training but its most likely hard to compartmentalize the ideaology that is interpreted through the renassaince era. I believe the modern artists are also behind in their own interpretation of modernity and feeling their cause is in disarray. Discovering the lost art is part of the new art or "C" styles as I call them that interpret to the highest degree the masterfulness of what art should be today. I hope you like the various artists presented by this new style to inhabit your old world paintings and maybe you'll convert. Ha Ha just kidding. Celebrity art is that which conveys the message Andy Warhol started and is beginning a new wave in this field. Professional or not its what's happening. Check out my "C" styles art , Search for "Start Up oil painting" by Penofone.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

penofone— I will come by ASAP to check out your Hub "Start up oil Painting." I had not heard of "C" Style Art before. I appreciate the enlightenment on that. I found an example of "C" Style Art on the 'deviant art.com' website.

It looks quite interesting.

When I venture into the "Modern Art" wing at a museum I must say I do not find hardly any of it to be beautiful and surely beauty was not the objective of the artist. That is what I think is a shame because beauty in art elevates us. Ugliness, distortion, nonsense (splashing paint on a canvas at random), and especially sacrilege do not.

Thank you very much for visiting my Hub and for your thoughtful and insightful comments.


penofone profile image

penofone 4 years ago

I'm glad you thought about visiting my site at least, I have much ado about getting the right traffic to might the cause if you know what I mean. Someday the right situation will come over to the right people.. If it is allowed in the artworld it could mean that people have some understanding of the underlying thinking behind it. Some cause for its dismayl may mean to enhance the characteristics of my work in general.. Nobody seems to die trying I guess...

Thanks,

Anish (50 cents disciple)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Author

penofone— I not only thought about visiting your Hub, I pledge to do so. I keep full on busy writing my own Hubs and answering dozens of comments each day, besides working on my book. Therefore, I do not read other people's Hubs except at designated times—I have found it distracting to mix reading Hubs with writing them. So I keep a list of Hubs and Hubbers to read and about once every two weeks I spend two whole days doing nothing but reading Hubs and commenting on them—usually about 200 of them. Then I get back to my own affairs. You are on that list and I will be there soon. :)

Thank you and you are welcome, Anish.

James


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