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Putting the Heart Back in Art

Beauty is beyond the musings of the human mind.

"Alice's New Idea." Painting done by my wife. Not accepted by our local gallery in 2015.

This article is written in dedication to my lovely wife Alexandra who is proud to be launching her "Painted Symphony" store on Etsy.

She has had moderate success in terms of getting her art displayed in galleries but has had no shortage of admirers and patrons for pieces such as the one displayed above. 

When "Alice's New Idea" was not included in our small town gallery, I wanted to do some investigating to see what type of work they deemed to be more appropriate. 

I also want to broaden into a critique of the modern art world in general and human perceptions of beauty. I thank you in advance for indulging the shameless self-promotion of my wife's work in contrast to some of her peers in the modern art world.

The first thing to ask if a certain art piece did not make it into any given gallery is what pieces DID make the cut? Art galleries have a unique cultural impact on our daily lives. Many people I talk to in my counseling practice say their lives lack beauty and inspiration and turn to visual art, music, dance, and other forms of human beauty as part of their healing.

We turn to cultural hubs like art galleries in order to tap into our own inspiration and expose ourselves to some real beauty in a world in dire need of it. All too often I have entered into a gallery, walked around, and wondered, "What happened to the art?"

 Here are a few pieces that made it into the gallery in our local town:

Ladies and Gentlemen... Modern Art.

The piece on the right sums up how my heart feels after viewing entries such as these.

This photo was taken from the Facebook page of the art gallery in our former town. I included the artists' names because all publicity is good publicity and I am happy if my readers enjoy this type of art. 

I, however, find myself cringing inside when I look at pieces like this because I feel it is anathema to what art is meant to be in its relationship with the human spirit and its role in bringing beauty to our lives.

This brings about the question of objective vs subjective reality and looking more deeply at the idea that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." 

I feel this may be true to an extent  but I am a firm believer in the universality of beauty. A group of people can look at a painting and know that it is beautiful beyond any doubt; there is a consensus reality in the human consciousness that responds to true beauty such as nature and inspired works of art, music, poetry, and other forms of human creativity.

On the other hand, the untitled work of "art" below sold for almost 50 million dollars. Without reading a review or an explanation for this piece beforehand, I invite you to ask yourself how this can be possible.

Untitled Piece by American Painter Cy Twombly. Wow.

As I look at the photo of Mr. Twombly's work I find it difficult to keep writing this article as I feel the painting itself is its own testimony to what has happened with humanity and its demonstrable disconnection from beauty and the sacredness of life.

We simply have to be honest with ourselves and call a spade a spade. Just because someone was willing to pay millions of dollars for something does not imbue it with inherent value and mean it is objectively beautiful.

If we look back throughout history, we can find paintings that captured the beauty of human life and the divinity and sanctity within each of us such as with religious paintings. Showing the human form as good and inherently divine is a powerful means of elevating our sense of self-worth in daily life, but art can be beautiful even in the abstract.

Let us contrast Cy Twombly's piece with a Vasily Kandinsky abstract shown below:

Schwarze Linien/Black Lines 1913

One can see the beauty in this piece even though it is not depicting anything in particular. I have had friends who specialized in abstract art and their work conveyed a deep beauty that I certainly failed to feel from Twombley's ketchup splatters even though their work sold for much more modest prices.

The bottom line is each of us has a duty to be honest about what we are presented in our daily lives. I have been told by self-proclaimed experts what I should accept as art, music, entertainment, and culture in general.

Since I happen to be married to a wonderful artist, I wanted to invite people to delve into their own ideas and feelings as well so we can come together and co-create a more beautiful world. It is time to put the heart back in modern art.

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Putting the Heart Back in Art
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