I have chosen 19th century art and the Aesthetic Movement to consider What is an aesthetic?.
I chose this period because the aesthetic movement of the 19th century celebrated beauty for its own sake, not just in painting but also in furniture, textiles, ceramics, fashion and architecture. Beauty in the Victorian period was very much linked to lifestyle. It was also the period where photography first started to be widely used.
Charles Baudelaire sums up the idea of beauty and aesthetics for me, he said:.
All beauties contain, like all possible phenomena, something eternal and something transitory,- -something absolute and something particular. Absolute and eternal beauty does not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction skimmed from the common surface of different sorts of beauty. The particular element of each beauty comes from the emotions, and as we each have our own particular emotions, so we have our beauty.
Within the assignment there are several sections, the first section will consider three definitions of aesthetics considering the views of Plato, Nietzsche and Ruskin, the second, third and fourth sections will consider the following works: The Roses of Heliogabalus by Sir Lawrence Almadema,.
The Hay Wain by John Constable and .
Ophelia by John Everett Millais respectively.
In the fifth section I will summarise the artists, writers and philosophers used in the essay and finally in the sixth section I will set out my conclusion from the earlier sections.
Definition of Aesthetics.
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty and taste. To understand aesthetics better it is useful to consider the influence that philosophy has had on our current understanding of aesthetics. I have chosen Plato, Nietzsche and Ruskin to illustrate how I understand aesthetics.
Plato states For he who would proceed aright. should begin in youth to visit beautiful forms.