Essay Design Art

Like so many Indigenous Australians, Kngwarry has evoked her deep spiritual and cultural connection to the lands that we share through some of the most intensely beautiful objects made by human hands.In her work we can trace the lines of the brush, the wet-on-wet blend of colours intuitively selected, the place of the artist’s body as she moved about the canvas to complete her design.

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The Bright Young Things, as they were called, were the last bloom of a dying plant — the last generation of British aristocrats to lead a life of unfettered leisure before so many were cut down in their prime by the war that permanently altered the economic structure of Britain.

Stephen Tennant was the brightest of the Bright Young Things.

When she is emotional and empathic, she is at risk of being called hysterical.

Likewise, a man who works in the beauty industry — a make-up artist, fashion designer, hairdresser, or interior designer — might be mocked for being effete and superficial.

We’d have a hard time considering this object beautiful, but it is widely accepted to be one of most important works of Western art from the last century.

To call something beautiful is not a critical assertion, so it’s deemed of little value to an argument that attempts to understand the morals, politics, and ideals of human cultures past and present.One cartoon from the Washington Post lampooned the aesthete with a reference to Charles Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution. Here the pun relies on a comparison made between the irrational ape — Darwin’s original human — and Wilde the frivolous aesthete.The aesthete was a dangerous combination of male privilege, class privilege, and female sensibility.I know that a complex set of ideas, stories, and experiences have informed its maker. What I want to defend is our felt experience of beauty as way of knowing and navigating the world around us. It suggests that they are frivolous, vain, privileged, and affected.The aesthete — a much maligned figure of late-19th and early-20th century provides a fascinating insight on this topic. But I would like to reposition aesthetes as radical, transgressive figures, who challenged the very foundations of the conservative culture in which they lived, though an all-consuming love of beautiful things.For Wilde and his followers, the work of art — whether it be a poem, a book, a play, a piece of music, a painting, a dinner plate, or a carpet — should only be judged on the grounds of beauty.They considered it an utterly vulgar idea that art should serve any other purpose.It had long been held that men and women approached the world differently.Men were rational and intellectual; women emotional and irrational.And yet, it is often the beauty we perceive in works of art from the past or from another culture that makes them so compelling.When we recognise the beauty of an object made or selected by another person we understand that maker/selector as a feeling subject who shared with us an ineffable aesthetic experience.


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