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Why Beauty Matters (2009)

Contemporary philosopher Roger Scruton presents a fascinating argument for the importance of beauty in our art and in our lives, and explores what truly is and is not beautiful, regardless of its beholder.


Roger Scruton




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Roger Scruton Roger Scruton ... Self


Contemporary philosopher Roger Scruton presents a fascinating argument for the importance of beauty in our art and in our lives, and explores what truly is and is not beautiful, regardless of its beholder.

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ugh... so bad.
13 January 2015 | by baura-liseSee all my reviews

Great content with terrible execution, as Scruton approaches very important topics with a near-absolute lack of knowledge on the subject matter. He states, "Beauty matters. It is not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert." This being said, all of the ideas of "inherent beauty" exist to him and him alone as subjective. This concept of beauty is not one that can be ignored or rewritten; both concepts are correct. Beauty is an absolutely essential element within human nature, but it is also subjective (as well as influenced by historical/cultural/environmental scenery). His ideas of beauty are his alone as he completely writes off everything that the modern art world has to offer alongside modern architecture, and finds himself much more at home with the paintings and architecture of the Romantic and Renaissance eras such as Delacroix, Botticelli. Even then he has quite little to say that is not already known by the average person, and therefore the documentary acts as more of a diary entry than anything substantial. Though as a bonus you also receive some interviews where he/the interviewer makes contemporary artists quite uncomfortable with the arduous, timeworn question of why their art is even considered as such, with more than enough visible animosity to make the viewer squirm in their seat.

Though as one who attends an art university I can easily find myself biased and disappointed by much on this topic. I don't want to say that he is conservative, traditional and ultimately old-fashioned, though I'd be a liar if i stated otherwise. Completely ignoring modern art's strides in science, activism, music, architecture, and culture in general, he writes everything modern as irrelevant or even evil, as "practical things pursuing ugliness". Really, it seems he hates everything to do with the modern age but decides to pick on art and architecture solely.

Yes, he's right in a variety of ways ways--- art has become a slave to consumer culture and it knows it. Everything has, ultimately, as it is a consumer CULTURE, a society that influences everything that we do in our everyday occurrences, from our jobs and our interactions. As a result much art speaks toward this knowledge of the art as brand-- and with this knowledge art has the ability to satirize this idea though too many artists these days run the thin line between satire and empowerment (Such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst as two of the three contemporary artists that he even bothered to mention). He forgets-- or perhaps he never knew-- that art has other purposes and uses such as its incredible ability to give cultural, environmental, and political issues a public platform/visibility or even to take political strides to promote change (within much conceptual and social practice art). He gives the viewer the absolute worst side of modern art, completely ignoring the more spiritual side found in the paintings of Rothko, the installations and site-specific works of James Turrell, the land art of Andy Goldsworthy or Robert Smithson, etc, etc. The films of Tarkovsky, or the music of Reich, Eno, Glass or Basinski. There's much art in this age that serves to seek beauty as ultimate though perhaps in a slightly different form to what he is accustomed to, and that's nothing to be upset about but rather to celebrate if only he knew of its existence at all.

But rather he would like to plug his ears, hang out at the Louvre and write piano music for opera--- all very fun, but this isn't the man I want to be teaching me or anybody at all about art or contemporary culture. I hope people who view this documentary approach it more informed about contemporary art culture of as to not feel themselves persuaded to despise everything about it. There is a lot of bad-- but that doesn't mean you need to step back to a distorted, idealized view of a few centuries past to find solace. Don't be so quick to give up on the present and undoubtedly you will find beauty, and perhaps a bit of wisdom as well.

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28 November 2009 (UK) See more »

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