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HSG
14th June 2009, 03:58
<br>As long-time readers of this site will be aware, the present-day suppression of plus-size beauty is merely one component of a general effort by modern political ideologues to eradicate the concept of Beauty itself.

In like manner, just as society is slowly rediscovering full-figured femininity, so a growing Aesthetic Restoration is emerging, a movement that rejects the modern world's championing of minimalist ugliness, and seeks the renewal of timeless ideals of beauty.

With that in mind, forum member Kirsten recently sent us a fascinating <i>New York Times</I> article (linked below) that shows one individual's efforts to single-handedly generate an artistic renewal.<p><center>* * *</center><p>While admiring the following image, you are likely to think that you are viewing the interior of a Baroque palace, or a Rococo manor, <i>"a gilt and mirrored hall so boisterously baroque that you half expect Marie Antoinette to appear and offer you cake,"</i> as the article suggests.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/gallery/nyt01.jpg"></center><p>But you are not. In fact, you are looking at a room that one man created all on his own, all within the past few years.

And said creator, Dr. Anthony Walter, is not an artisan by trade, but a former surgeon--just an ordinary individual who decided one day that he wanted to surround himself with the kind of beauty that was plentiful in the aristocratic past, but is absent from the democratic present.

Walter's inclination to create this magnificent space for himself and his wife originated--as great art always does--in a quest to overcome sadness and pain:<p><blockquote><i>The project began in 1995 after he contracted hepatitis B while operating on an infected patient. He became gravely ill. At 6 feet 3 inches tall, he went from 210 pounds to 140 pounds, less than what he said he weighed in sixth grade, adding: “I was given little chance of surviving.”</i></blockquote><p>To combat his depression, Walter began learning art and sculpture--completely from scratch (<i>"as a child, he could not even draw a stick figure,"</i> the article tells us).

Not surprisingly, the article notes that Walter favours Baroque artists, and learned to paint by copying a canvas by none other than the master of plus-size beauty, Peter Paul Rubens.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/gallery/nyt04.jpg"></center><p>He subsequently learned woodcraft, sculpture, and a dozen other design arts. And the rest, as these images attest, is history.<p><center>* * *</center><p>In his oeuvre, Walter even explores a theme that will be familiar to readers of this site:<p><blockquote><i>One of [his] finished paintings, for instance, is his version of the <strong>Judgment of Paris,</strong> only it depicts him as Paris, turning away from the Greek goddesses in favor of his wife.</i></blockquote><p>As the article notes, Walter was inspired by Old World beauty, and sought to create a<p><blockquote><i>room [that] would have elements of Versailles, the Vatican and St. Paul’s Cathedral. “I wanted to live in an extremely beautiful space like the museums, palazzos and churches in Europe,” he said.</i></blockquote><p>Walter's artistic influences comprise every century prior to the 20th:<p><blockquote><i>He created a series of massive tableaus depicting his love for his wife, each showing the couple set in a different era: ancient Greece, for example, or czarist Russia.</i></blockquote><p>But like a true pre-modern artist, his work is not mere "art for art's sake," but has a spiritual dimension, and is based on deeply held beliefs:<p><blockquote><i>The room is a tribute to his wife, Susan, he said, and is meant to teach others how to achieve God’s salvation through marital love. It is also his take on Christianity.

“The Bible is confusing the way it’s laid out,” he said. “I want to visually depict its teachings so that everyone can understand and experience it.”

“The heart of what I’m trying to say with my decorative art is that morality is accepting the consequences of your actions, which no one is willing to do these days,” he said. His murals have themes of repentance, resisting temptation, charity and the like.

Dr. Walter says he hopes that his artistry will inspire others to devote themselves to their spouses and to God.</i></blockquote><p>This is highly significant, for the artist's intentions, as described above, precisely coincide with the original purpose of Old World sacred art (going all the way back to the Middle Ages), which similarly intended to make religious themes comprehensible to the laity.

Thus, Walter has not only adopted the aesthetic of the Western tradition, but its <i>raison d'ętre</i> as well.

Whether one is personally inclined towards Christianity, or whether one prefers the vitality of Europe's pagan, pre-Christian past, no one can deny that the great religions of the West gave rise to history's finest art. Humble, simple men like Anton Bruckner could produce mighty, cathedral-like symphonies because their desire to exalt God gave them the creative license to produce works of towering scale. Colossal Gothic cathedrals like the Kölner Dom testify to man's awesome powers of creation, but they owe their existence to the people's communal will to create awe-inspiring world-wonders "to the greater glory of God."<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/gallery/nyt02.jpg"></center><p>Perhaps the finest observation in the article comes at its conclusion, which illustrates the clash of cultures between Walter's traditional approach to art, and the degenerate condition of modernity:<p><blockquote><i>Dr. Walter said he tried to interest curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in his project, perhaps to make it a satellite decorative arts museum, but “they could care less.”

He said their reaction was understandable, <strong>given that the museum’s collection includes abstract art, which he disdains. "I am a huge threat because what I have done renders everything they have junk"</strong>, he said beneath the glinting chandeliers in his great hall. “I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant but the reaction of people who come in here tells me the power of it."</i></blockquote><p>His work surly does render abstract art so much "junk," as do all of the great representational masterpieces of Western history created prior to the 20th century.

Who could prefer to live in a minimalist, modern, steel-and-concrete monstrosity rather than in the temple of beauty that Walter has created? Who could prefer to be surrounded by Picasso's ugly political canvasses, with their misshaped, degenerate forms, rather than by the traditional paintings shown here?<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/gallery/nyt03.jpg"></center><p>Perhaps this is what is needed for art to experience an aesthetic restoration--for talented "amateurs" like Walter, who exist wholly outside the professional milieu of modern culture and reject its principles, to redeem art from the outside, to revive it by reestablishing timeless principles of beauty, and sweeping away the modernist dross before them.

Likewise, perhaps this is what is needed in the fashion industry--for individuals who stand outside the fashion establishment to come in and redefine it completely, dispensing at a stroke the toxic emaciated aesthetic and the minimalist mindset, and in their place establishing Classical principles of beauty for models, and opulent, traditional, folkloric, and romantic guidelines for fashion.

Amber Cather (Dorothy Combs/Click)--gorgeous test environment and wardrobe styling:<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/amber02.jpg" alt="Amber Cather"></center><p>- <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/garden/18gilded.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all" target="_blank">Click here to read the <i>New York Times</I> article</a>

Kristina
14th June 2009, 22:55
It seems to me that love, as well as beauty, is under attack these days. Dr. Walter's work magnificently affirms both.

kirsten
16th June 2009, 04:59
The modern world has much emptiness to it, in art, landscape, architecture, entertainment...an external emptiness that can lead to an internal emptiness that manifests as our modern melancholies.

Dr. Walter's project reminds me of the riches that can be created from a full inner life and genuine feelings.

Christine
28th June 2009, 15:46
Interesting article, and gorgeous pictures indeed. Such lush, unpolluted treasures of timeless, "old world" beauty. I have never liked modern clothes and interior design, nor modern entertainment, with its trashy look and vilifying of everything plus size.