Beauty is widely defined as a subjective quality of certain objects that makes these objects pleasing to perceive. These objects include sunsets, landscapes, humans and beautiful works of art. Beauty, along with individual taste and aesthetics, is still the most significant theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of modern philosophy.
The twentieth century aesthetician Max Weber claimed that beauty consisted of “completeness”; this meaning that each object was complete in itself as it related to its surroundings. Beauty thus consisted of the totality of an object’s physical, emotional and spiritual qualities. Beauty was then seen as a subjective quality that related to the emotional response of the person viewing the object, rather than a criterion of some external standard.
However, the twentieth century brought a new trend for the definition of beauty. Instead of relating to the totality of beauty, the twentieth century artist Louis Comfort Tiffany attempted to relate the beauty of an object to the contemporary society it was found in. Beauty in the modern period was associated more with what people thought and were socially accepted. For example, classical art had once been associated with virtue and culture; modern beauty trends tend to be associated with what a person finds beautiful or desirable.
Modern art began to shed its connection to the classical ideal of beauty in the early twentieth century. Art movements such as Cubism and Pop Art dismissed the idea of perfect beauty and created instead strong, vibrant abstractions. Another form of modern art, Post-Impressionism, rejected the strictures of formalism, claiming beauty to be determined by the feelings an object evokes in the viewer. The movement influenced conceptual art and the art of painting too. Pop artist Renoir showed signs of divergence from traditional aesthetics and beauty trends.
Modernists, on the other hand, renewed the idea of beauty, placing greater emphasis on form than content. In particular, Cubists like Picasso sought to create an art that would represent objects as things inside of other objects. Surrealists like Mirrillo Dali sought to create a beauty that is not dependent on the perception of an audience. Instead, his beauty focuses on the viewer’s experience of the work of art. Postmodernists, on the other hand, oppose the perfection of form with that of content. They believe that beauty is subjective and not dependent on how the form looks.
Beauty has become a highly charged term. It can apply to anything and everything, from literature and film to fashion and technology. Everyone seems to have a definition of beauty that varies by culture, age and social status. In popular culture, beauty is often defined using glamorous, expensive items. But, for the artists and the critics who pursue beauty trends, beauty is the result of an individual’s personal interaction with the world around them.