by Antonio Lilliu
‘The LEGO principle on new BEAUTY!’
At the beginning of the year the foundation Palazzo Strozzi in Florence presented the exhibition "Divine Beauty", a digression on beauty in the context of Art and Religion between midst 19th and the first half of the 20th century. This unique Art-exhibition had been showing Italian masterpieces of Domenico Morelli, Emilio Vedova and Renato Guttuso as well as international ones as of Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso and Chagall, to name only few.
For Art lovers and aesthetes, it’s more than legitimate to wonder, whether beauty has anything divine or not. In fact, nowadays beauty is getting more and more a matter of “pragmatism": it has become more democratic, political correct, almost opportunistic, you might say.... but that's not surprising, as it has been accustomed since always to being exploited, even the most “divine” one. The creation of the Pyramids and the David of Donatello were commissioned due to far more pragmatic goals than to celebrate pure beauty. Ideologies of their patrons are since long outdated, the only thing they left back is the beauty of these masterpieces: a divine one, because it defies eternity.
Old masters such as Phidias, Botticelli, Michelangelo and many others wouldn’t hesitate considering human beauty the supreme expression of God’s creativity. While visual Arts of modern age consider it a minor issue, preferring to devote themselves to philosophical speculations or deepening cognitive processes about reality as they are far more interested in featuring the inner world of the viewer than the object itself. No wonder, that this inside view of human beings looks rather "ABSTRACT".
Sciences such as chemistry, sociology, ethnography, psychology and genetics provide nowadays comprehensive answers to the question "HOW COMES ON AN ASSESSMENT OF BEAUTY AS SUCH?", while aesthetic medicine and beauty industry may help to complete the creation of God. Yellow press, movies, art directors and designers have inherited from Arts the difficult task to propagandize "HOW BEAUTY IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE." Ultimately, Marketing is supposed to shape beauty’s dictates on customer groups’ features and to address them its claims.
Today’s Beauty, being customized on the needs of sub-cultures groups, has definitely very modest ambitions. Compared to the Sphinx or to the creations of Mr. Dior it looks like junk-food.
The world of pop music is the profane paradigm of the beauty cult exacerbating its aberration: not naming names, we can imagine a fictional character who summarizes all tricks of the Pop icons in the last twenty years: let's call her Miss BlaBla! First you see her singing in a Gospel Chore in a fake Gothic Church of New Orleans, then back to Rap in chaps’ out-fit in a night open-air venue in the Bronx, or wearing an Eli Saab glamorous evening gown on the red carpet of Amy Awards, while next time she will play again the nasty gal next to her Alter Ego Susy-from-the-block in Adidas-like sweat leggings and sport bra…you got it: that’s CUSTOMIZED BEAUTY! Just like a surrealistic Photoshop’s session with Leonardo’s La Gioconda: you can have it with straight hair, fringe, loose curls, perm, platinum blond, bald, Punk, Goth, wearing jump suit, in Burka as well as in Domina Look…just like “PLAYING A LEGO GAME”. Always the same TRADE MARK with different flavors mirroring predetermined customers’ profiles. Besides being available anytime and anywhere thanks YOU.TUBE, she is always at her best: if you have no HD it’s your fault not hers, weak up! What?…You say, it’s not real! C’mon’ Mate! Forget Schopenhauer! You’ve to come with some more original arguments!
Look at the millions of her followers from Ulan Bator to Washington DC united by the same “Miss BlABla’s LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR”. What they believe is much more real than the Gravity Law. Building a community of FANS, one of a pacifistic world citizens sharing the same tastes, attitudes and interests is the ultimate human goal, instead of dividing people as anyone can do…look at the politics, religions, economics.
While trying to please their core-business clients and targeting new niches’ players fashion editors dictate with Salomon’s aplomb that….this is beautiful but also that’s marvelous: ‘Look how incredible Prada is this season! But make sure you don’t miss Ferragamo, that’s getting more & more avant-gardists every day! Yoshi Yamamoto is the new Classic while Balmain is now a Must for the self-conscious business woman’”. Rossy de Palma, a Spanish actress discovered by the director Pedro Almodovar in the late 80’s, was hailed as "Picasso's Beauty": a journalistic euphemism to describe her Type in a flattering way. In fact, it’s known that Picasso's women are not true beauties, but only those in paintings, because in real life Picasso had a weakness for extremely beautiful women as Dora Maar, Maríe Therese Walter, Jacqueline Roque, etc. So we are tempted by the medias to believe that everyone is beautiful; that everything is permitted; that you just need to feel comfortable to look cool; that age is only a question of attitude…the main thing is just to follow your mood; after all, just being you (But, what are we? ... Only few of us will be able to answer such a question without bumbling!) ... So all so very easy!
Admittedly: if everything was really that „EASY", why do we spend so much effort discussing such issues? Why do we keep supporting the economy as consumers if we have no more needs? Why do millions of people worldwide undergo billions of aesthetic treatments if they are perfect just as they are?
Since every religion has its own behaviors’ rules, nowadays fashion impose its believers the cult of "COOLNESS". Beauty must look absolutely "effortless" ... which brings new rules in the game, far more difficult to detect, because we can’t count any longer on a Style Bible. Conclusion: the decline of fixed aesthetic rules, which should provide more freedom to all, ultimately causes more uncertainty about anyone’s self-worth. Alone the millions of Selfies exchanged over the WEB every minute are evidence that people’s self-esteem is getting more and more dependent on others’ acceptance.
Even Visual Communication is getting more and more dependent from WEB algorithms. For advertising campaigns companies are not booking any more the faces they expect to transfer brand values at best. Instead they make their choice basing on the number of models’ Instagram followers, just as Fans would mean buyer.
And then…is Beauty divine? Well, that’s the wrong question to the right answer: ‘God is an idea beyond good and evil, he doesn’t ask himself whether he is "divine" or not: this is our dilemma. He is what he is, he can’t otherwise; he needs nothing, not even beauty. We are those who need beauty, looking for evidence about the existence of infinity. Beauty is more than just a visual or acoustic information; it is an instinctive evaluation of the viewer, which requires no explanation and no intervention of consciousness.’
Maybe it will never be certainty about God’s existence, anyway all of us instinctively know that Beauty exists while being able to awake strong emotions. We might call them divine, as we please.