An important piece of preparing for my upcoming aesthetic’s course is Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty. Eco claims to take a look at beauty historically with no preconceived notions. As far as that task goes, it’s a huge success, and I was personally introduced to a wide variety of artistic styles with which I wasn’t previously familiar.
The biggest weakness is that it didn’t really help me come away feeling like I learned anything about beauty, but perhaps that’s the point. The suggestion of the book seems to be that beauty is something that changes throughout time.
The best part of the book were the included philosophical snippets – they added to the images a great deal, and could only have been improved by adding more context for them.
Personally, I’m planning to use it as a jumping off point. Let’s start exploring beauty by thinking about what has been considered beautiful throughout the ages. Check out the presentation I’ve created for this purpose (best viewed in Full Screen, by clicking the More button):
Since we’re thinking so much about beauty lately:
What one piece of artwork do you consider most beautiful? Let us know in the comments.
For further reading: