What Is Beauty?
Posted by madcap on August 31, 2008
My wife and I went downtown Chicago to check out the Jazz Festival, and ended up at the Chicago Art Museum. We have been studying the beginning of the Renaissance, starting with Cosimo De Medici, the Godfather of the Renaissance. I was hoping to see some actual work by Filippo Brunelleschi, but they did not have any. They did have a portrait of one of Cosimo De Medici’s descendants, which was rather exciting.
I stopped observing each work and began to just let my senses guide me toward that which would naturally call to me. My favorite was a painting of St. Peter that depicted the scene where Peter calls out to God after having denied Christ three times.
It was beauty. Something in the materials of oil and canvas was alive. The grief in the wrinkles of his forehead, and the time within the groves of his hands. That’s what beauty is, life that is brought forth from the material world. An artist can somehow become a vehicle for the breath of God, calling forth life from that which is dead.
In that moment, humanity’s grief and pain was captured with a stroke of a brush; then it was no longer Peter’s grief and pain, but my own; yours and mine, humanity’s world soul. It is the human condition.
It is what Plato called the Beautiful. For even suffering works toward the Good.