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Old 12th October 2011   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default Re: The Romantic Spirit

In the "Golden Age" episode, I was also very much moved by the following commentary from the narrator, which plays at 13:15 in the video:

The fashion for Greek-style temples in the building of the time is reflected in Sir Robert Smirke's design for the British Museum.

"There should be temples where one can revere the great artists as the highest mortal beings, where one can be bathed in calm, silent humility and uplifting solitude. I compare the most noble works of art with prayer."

Thus wrote the early German Romantic Heinrich Wackenroder in 1797. From this idea of creating a holy setting for the display of works of art came a number of great museums of the period.

How extraordinary that the romantics viewed art as sacred. What a contrast to our own modern world, a time when so-called "modern art" (a contradiction in terms) seems to exist merely to defile the past and to be as profane as possible.

Not only did the Romantics revive castles and cathedrals, but they were also the greatest museum-founders. All three building enterprises -- the constructions of castles, cathedrals, and museums -- arise out of the same exalted ideal: that however debased modern art or culture may be, the greatness of the past is undimmed. And if the finest artistic expressions of the past can be preserved and restored and presented to a contemporary audience, they can inspire a revival of those nobler values of yore and thus lead to a cultural renewal.

This is directly analogous to the Judgment of Paris project, which finds in today's plus-size models and their loveliest images a means of reintroducing the timeless beauty ideal, as expressed in the aesthetic of full-figured femininity.
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