I was watching a video yesterday of potter Eva Zeisel talking about her long life as an artist and she said she had always engaged in a “playful search for beauty”. It had been one of her main goals.
I started thinking about whether art should be beautiful and whether one should be working playfully. In the richest sense of the word “beauty” (not the worn out trite usage we’re so familiar with!) Art should be, I think. Beautiful or, perhaps, shocking – but even the shocking must engage the eye, must lead it around the image or form seductively inviting us to stay the course. If you just looked at
Everyone loves to look at beautiful scenery, would love to live in a beautiful house, or be with (or be!) a beautiful person (and by that I don’t mean looks!)…so it would make sense we would like to look at beautiful art.
Beauty is not trite, pallid, commercialized, pastel, greeting card taste – that is mere prettiness and can hold one’s attention momentarily. If that. Which reminds me of a story I love to tell (two nations divided by a similar language) – when we got on the plane to emigrate to the
to the Americans on board, that meant we’d be leaving soon,
to the Brits it meant we’d be in the air for a moment and then down again!!
Colours, shapes, lines etc don’t have to be “pretty” or “sweet” to be beautiful; music played in a minor key can be just as (if not more so) beautiful than a major one. Nobody wants to listen to a harsh monotonous banging noise, but something that engages our spirit makes us feel good. Feeling good leads to better health!!!
Beauty can be fresh, or mature, bold or soft, quiet or loud, startling or soothing. Many things! I always think about poor old Bilbo (0r was it Frodo?) talking about his pocket contents: “Lots - and nothing at all!” Art is lots of things (decoration, communication, information, honour, inspiration), but it has to be one thing first: something that holds our attention, something we desire, something that can lead to immortality? Well, perhaps no, but longevity certainly! Think about the things (landscapes, skies, pictures, photographs, music). What is about the ones that stay with you? What qualities do they have?
If it’s beautiful, we’ll look, we’ll engage, we’ll stay, and we’ll remember.
And now to try to reach that creative goal…playfully!
If you have been, thanks for reading!