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Seeing Things (4): On Beauty
July 27, 2009

This is the fourth in a series of personal observations about how people experience and explore museums. Take a look at Howard's other blog posts on the subject: Seeing Things (1), Seeing Things (2): Art and Love, and Seeing Things (3): Seeing in the Dark.

Sam Francis

Untitled by Sam Francis

What is beauty?

Don't worry, I'm not going to try and answer that now. It's a beautiful summer day, and I'm walking through American Art looking at art, and watching people as they look at art, and trying to hear a little bit about what they say to each other about what they're seeing.

To me, somehow it all comes down to beauty--the colors the painter chooses to use, as well as his or her stroke and touch. Does similar beauty exist in the video artist's screen or the sculptor's compliant metal? Beauty seems to be everywhere, from the quiet white notes of a Sam Francis painting to the operatic, sweeping compositions of Albert Bierstadt.

I also find beauty in the way people look at the art, and especially when they look at each other right after that. With or without words, art brings us to different conversations and different ways of seeing things.

Posted by Howard on July 27, 2009 in American Art Everywhere, Seeing Things


Beauty indeed is in the eye of the beholder. Patterns of beauty are easy to identify. It's the consistency in an artist that I look for.

When I first began to study art, I was primarily interested in art as social commentary and beauty was a secondary consideration. So what I enjoyed reading most in Howard's observations was his fresh perspective of finding beauty in the way people look at art and how they see each other after that.

NCorral, that's a great point. Thank you.

I spent many years studying art and still place a lot of my own value in what the art is trying to tell us and what point it is making, without any regards to beauty. I am finding that I struggle now between life in and out of the art world. I seem to have to live in one or the other, but can't live in both at the same time with the people that I work and spend time with. Outside of the academic art world, in the world I share with my community, though, I think beauty is the art and surroundings that make us happy.

Art can tell us a lot and everyone can see art different from the other. This is the beautiful thing about art.

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