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Old 5th July 2005   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default "A mirror of nature"

(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, February 11th, 2004.)

Linked below is a recent Art Renewal Center article which provides a valuable perspective on some of the matters that we have discussed here of late.

The essay is titled "Understanding" Art, and it confirms, yet again, how closely the restoration of timeless feminine beauty is related to the broader cultural movement that is working towards the redemption and recovery of Beauty itself as the governing principle in art.

The author of the essay, Claudio Lombardo, makes a passionate formalist plea for beauty and harmony--qualities which distinguish the greatest images of full-figured femininity, just as they do the greatest works of art. Lombardo's stress on Nature as providing the basis for artistic creation is significant as well--for in the final analysis, what is the battle for size celebration about, but embracing and adoring the natural feminine figure, as opposed to an artificially constrained or diminished form? The following quotation from Lombardo's article could apply just as easily to images of plus-size beauty as to noble artworks:

They appeal to our senses because they are a mirror of Nature; therefore we can easily identify ourselves with the persons or objects portrayed, because they belong to the same three-dimensional world we inhabit.

First look--Barbara Brickner modelling for Elena Miro, Spring 2004

Lombardo's essay also exhibits warranted anger towards the elitist, closed system of modernist art, and the "tyranny of taste" that it has imposed on our culture. Consider how applicable the following statement is to the straight-size fashion establishment as well:

The only skill exercised by the modern "masters" is the one applied to marketing and public relations, because without the support of a huge network of subservient art critics, cynical art dealers, powerful museums and institutions that have great interest in its promotion, this glorified high sounding nothing would have disappeared a long time ago destroyed by its own sick nature.

As adapted: Without the support of a huge network of sycophantic fashion writers, cynical designers, powerful magazines and media outlets that have great interest in its promotion, the glorified straight-sized "nothing" standard (size 0--how apt!) would have disappeared a long time ago. Who would ever have considered a "sticklet" runway model attractive, let alone an aesthetic paragon, were it not for Vogue magazine and its ilk?

But by maintaining complete control over the aesthetic discourse of femininity in our society, the modernist fashion establishment maintains an unassailable hegemony over the notion of beauty. There is simply no alternative--or rather, "alternative" is all that is offered, while "normal" is never seen, due a complete suppression of natural, full-figured femininity. And any time an aesthetic challenge emerges, the media engages in a backlash that verges on outright hysteria; but the public never realizes this, because the media is a closed loop, and cannot be viewed from the "outside."

We must, as a society, become our own editors. We must break out of this closed loop, burst the media-generated bubble of perception in which we all live. As Lombardo laments:

Very few . . . have the courage to say: "it is rubbish" following the time-honoured practice of calling things by their name.

But we must do this. We must be willing to identify prejudice masquerading as "objective" reporting (let alone advertising). We must learn to recognize it, and reject it--edit it out of our minds--and then, and only then, will natural beauty be able to flow back into our hearts, and ennoble our culture once more.

John William Godward (1861-1922), A Souvenir:

- "Understanding" Art

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