I read a terrific article by Ms. Carol Ann Raphael who comments in an article she wrote called "the Beauty We Create" (Enlightenment Next magazine, March/May 2009). Historically art & beauty were synonymous but with the chaos of the First World War the Dadaists [anti-war, anti-bourgeois avant-garde leftist movement] reacted to the horrors of war by rejecting beauty and meaning. And what became valued on a large scale was the "shock of the new" (Art Critic Robert Hughes) or "objects & images that flaunt their disdain for beauty and serious content and universal truth" which were selling and popular.
However, since the 20th century the return and recognition of the importance of beauty as a central consideration which can benefit art, to provide it with purpose and meaning, Ms. Raphael comments can connect us to something deep & fundamental. Visionary, scientist, priest Pierre De Chardin wrote: "more primordial than any idea, beauty will be manifested as the herald and generator of ideas." Chardin seems to have known the importance and impact of beauty and the power of art which imbeds it. Beauty seems to have a life and quality unto itself that is or can be deeply spiritual and evolutionary in function- indeed a power to generate life and ideas. Ms. Raphael rightly comments in my humble opinion that "restoring the centrality of beauty in art may signal more than visual relief from the tawdriness of todays [postmodern] art." Perhaps we can begin to see a pendulum swing in a better direction that takes us from 'art' that might be defined as inhuman (hanging animal carcasses), shocking (religious icons submerged in urine) or flagrant (British Artist Damien Hirst's $100 million dollar human skull cast in platinum and studded with diamonds) to a deeper, meaningful or transcendental art which connects us to ourselves, or speaks to larger aspects of consciousness and the meaning of life. I think an art form where i can celebrate beauty, mysticism and the unknown wonders of our existence is one that i can contribute to and be proud of.