Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? The Jesus on the Beach picture prompted a lot of discussion, and I was surprised how many of my readers liked it. Those who did, expressed admiration for the sentiments expressed in the picture, and were clearly inspired by the famous ‘footprints in the sand’ poem.
However, a good number of readers didn’t like the picture. They commented on the clumsy composition, the poor standard of painting, the garish colors, the sentimentality and gauche sexuality of the picture. They also commented on the theological error (Jesus is a ghostly, gnostic figure)
So, is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Is everything a matter of taste? If it works for you is it good art? No. The problem in the arts as in morality is that our taste has been totally relativized. We’ve been told by the tolerance thugs that everyone’s taste is sacred and we dare not make any judgement on any work of art lest we make a judgement on the person who painted the picture and anyone who happens to like it.
The relativization of art began with the impressionistic movement–in which art moved away from direct representation of reality to being instead an expression of the impression reality made on the artist himself. Modern art moved quickly towards the total expressionism of the individual artist–the sole criterion of greatness being ‘originality’. At the same time popular appreciation for art moved in the opposite direction–towards hyper realism combined with hyper sentimentality. Thus the popularity of Norman Rockwell and the epitome of realistic sentimentality– the work of Thomas Kincade.
Art is all over the place and nobody seems to have any idea what is ‘good’ art or ‘bad’ art–and just about anything can be produced and sold and someone will buy it and the only value art has is the price tag a gallery owner slaps on the painting. Why is it that everything from a pile of dog turd to a new copies of classical artworks are being produced and sold as ‘art’. Why is it that nobody seems to be able to pronounce on any form of art authoritatively?
Chesterton said “Every argument is a theological argument” and the reason art is relativized is that it Western art has been cut loose from it’s Christian foundation. Read more.