Beauty – What Is It?
Beauty is often defined as an intangible quality of certain objects, which makes those objects enjoyable to see. Such objects may include sunsets, landscapes, humans and beautiful works of art. Beauty, along with personal taste and aesthetics, is the basis of aesthetics, among the most important branches of contemporary art history. It is, however, not the only important branch of art history.
Beauty, like personal taste and aesthetic sense, can be subjective and requires personal judgments. Aesthetic sensibility, however, predates the rise of culture and civilization, as it appears in the works of ancient Greece and Rome. In the works of such artists as Picasso, Manet, Chardin and Renoir, beauty is not an abstract quality, but a subjective and critical evaluation of the materials and people that are presented before the eyes of the artist.
The search for the timeless has been going on ever since the start of time, and there may be some answers to what makes a thing beautiful, although no one really knows when and how it becomes beautiful. Some people think that a thing is beautiful because it looks like or sounds like a beautiful thing. There may be some truth in this, but it is certainly not the only truth. Beauty, in both visual and verbal senses, and in varying degrees throughout all cultures and time periods, cannot be defined. A famous quotation by Goethe declares, “I have seen the beautiful, but I have also seen the hideous.” What makes a thing beautiful may be related, in some way, to how it appears to the individual who beholds it, but it may also be related to the way that it seems to the observer.
If we subscribe to the subjective theory of beauty, then beauty is something that can be perceived without effort or cost. Beauty depends on the beholder, and beauty varies as much from individual to individual as it does from make-up to make-up. The object of desire is always and necessarily connected with the idea of beauty in some way. Whether the idea of beauty is positive or negative, is of little importance to most people, since beauty in all its forms can be appreciated without effort.
Most people who have a desire to be beautiful are preoccupied with the question, “How am I going to make-up my face so that it will look like this, or so that I will look like this in my hair, or in my dress?” In other words, beauty is not a uniform substance that may be measured in terms of its purity and youthfulness, although these qualities are often present in the same mind. Instead, beauty is often seen in relation to how it affects the person who possesses it. For instance, a beautiful body can be attractive in and of itself; but the attractiveness may be multiplied many times over when the physical being is seen through the eyes of a good-looking spouse, parent, or child.
Beauty encompasses more than just looking good in a particular dress or suit. Beauty is seen in the way that beauty is expressed in the person who possesses it and in the community wherein the person lives. When a person decides that he or she is beautiful, there are certain things that may immediately be expected of him or her, such as an expectation that others will react positively to beauty (beauty being associated with success and happiness) and the conviction that one’s beauty level is higher than that of those around him or her. These assumptions about beauty may make a person feel good about himself or herself, but they do nothing to enhance or support the real beauty that is already present. Thus, it is important that a person learns to appreciate and value his or her real beauty, even if he or she wishes to enhance his or her appearance, which may ultimately contribute to making him or her more successful.