Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. Albert Schweitzer
Art completes what Nature starts
Plato saw art as the imitation of nature in an imperfect world, an imperfect form, an illusion of something that exists for a moment and then is gone. Take for example a leaf, and its many forms, in winter it is a mere bud, and in spring bursts forth in the lightest shade of green, and by summer become full and green, in fall, to color the world in shades of gold and red, before, the winter wind shakes it roughly from its perch.
His student, Aristotle saw art as the imitation and perfection of nature. Art completes what nature cannot bring to a finish.
Truth is beauty
Art is man's search for beauty and truth, but these are but concepts and the forms take many shapes. A flower is formed, it blooms, and then it fades. Its beauty exists for a moment, is appreciated, then mourned. This is the same thought behind Robert Herrick's oft advice to young maidens:
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying."
Intoxicating though beauty may be, it is not the only emotion that art attempts to stir, for art is more than form. Art is an attempt to convey both sense and meaning in a world of inanimate objects. Art is beauty, but so much more. Take for example Picasso's Guernica that conveys the horror of war, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, that portrays the mystery of life, and even Edvard Munch's The Scream, which speaks to the absurdity of life. The last example, more so than the first two, expresses the dilemma that the artist in attempting to convey an idea, must let the viewer become the final arbiter of the meaning of art. Context, culture, and and civilization all contribute to man's appreciation of art. It is therefore an evolving art, and one must say that Aristotle spoke with hubris in believing that art makes nature complete in its perfection. Still we try.
We come full circle in discussing art. Art is beauty, art is truth, but truth is not always beautiful, but it is true. Perhaps, we should leave the question with the closing lines to Robert Keats poem Ode on a Grecian Urn:
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”.
That, my friends, is something to sleep on.