Chapter Two

Beauty Resurrected

The death of beauty?

'The impulse of modern art is to destroy beauty.' 1 Thus, in 1948, did the American painter Barnett Newman identify one of the driving motivations of twentieth-century art. The pursuit of beauty was renounced, derided and left out in the cold.

This is not to say that particular artists and movements didn't still devote themselves, in new ways, to the evocation of beauty. Indeed the drive towards abstraction was taken by some to dovetail with its pursuit. As a young fauve (meaning 'wild beast'), Matisse, alongside other artists such as Derain, painted scenes with intense non-naturalistic colours. Throughout endless artistic mutations to his final cancer-ridden years, in which period he made abstract patterns from vividly coloured paper cut-outs, Matisse pursued beauty. Despite his formal ingenuity, Matisse's avowed lack of interest in expressing the troubles, horrors and self-doubts of the modern age set him against the artistic tenor of his age. It is a

-47-

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Revealing Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Originality and Artistic Expression 6
  • Chapter Two - Beauty Resurrected 47
  • Chapter Three - Insight in Art 99
  • Chapter Four - Art and Morality 148
  • Chapter Five - The Truth in Humanism 205
  • Notes 256
  • Bibliography and Suggested Reading 263
  • Index 273
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