“The appropriate response to the chaos and suffering and confusion of this world is beauty.” ~ my awful memory of a truly inspiring quote I heard, recently…by someone.
Running around Paris, today, and Firenze, last week, and Paris again the week before, and having lived in development-happy America my whole life…seeing developers mow down beautiful old buildings in Halifax, where my mom lives…I’m overcome with the offensive realization that something awful has happened to beauty in art, history, and architecture over the last 75 years.
Our modern times have forgotten beauty and craftsmanship in favor of an unthinking destruction of tradition.
Beauty is everywhere here, in Paris, and it’s valued. Generally, by most.
Of course, there are beautiful modern experiments and wonderful exceptions to the rule. Van Gogh, for example, innovated. But his changes were not an explicit break or rejection of art history…but rather a building upon the traditions he inherited. He did his own wonderful thing, and discovered a new beauty.
I think, if you look at architecture through history, as diverse as it was, around 1945-1970 something dramatic happened—a death of quality and workmanship largely (not totally, of course, but largely) through both a conscious break in style (and lack of style) and mechanization and just good new-fashioned greed—cheap, ugly development where historic structures or nature existed previously.
Artists, too, stopped merely wonderfully messing with and experimenting with tradition, as with the Pointilists, and Van Gogh, street artists others who brought new beauty to our minds. Most artists, and buildings, is just a big f*ck you to history, tradition and beauty.
“How can we shock you or reject norms today?”
The instinct to destroy is juvenile, and too-often ugly.