Where the "Beauty in art" started

Mar 11, 2022 9:42AM

Breezy is curating an exhibition that will be held in Rome, at the Ex Cartiera on the prestigious Via Appia Antica, on April 22nd - 30th, to investigate the complex relationship between human beings and technology through the eyes of our time. To introduce the event and all the artists who will take part in it, we would share with you the process of research and study behind the creation of a curatorial concept titled: I(m)perfection: the laws of technology that dominate order and chaos. We will do this with short essays that will look at technology in its relationship with the concept of beauty, in its evolution through the centuries. We will talk about art and philosophy, order and chaos, mathematical weighting and improvisation. The question with which we want to introduce you to the reading is: Where does the purest and most authentic concept of beauty reside? In the proportion and balance of forms or, rather, in the undisciplined chaos?

Article written by Serena Nardoni

The term technology literally means "study of technique". It derives from the Greek τεχνολογία (texnology), which is composed of τέχνη (téjne) , meaning "technique, art, craft" and λόγος (lógos ), "study, treatise". Technology and art are, therefore, born to be synonymous.

There is a triangulation between technology, which is synonymous with art, and the human being, who is the inventor and user of technology as a means to investigate the physical reality, the surrounding space. At the same time, the human being knows the external world through sensitive experience and, through the comparison with what is other than himself, acquires greater awareness of his own identity and his own body.

This is what the Greek artists of the Classical age were firmly convinced of. Starting from the sixth century B.C., they gave their sculptures the courage to conquer their own space, breaking the rigid static nature of the kouroi of the archaic age. This process of transformation is introduced by the Ephebus of Krytios (dated about 480 B.C.), which carries within itself the germ of the disruptive force of the production of Myron and Polyclitus: the head of the young man poses a slight rotation of the head and, although in a standing position, presents the left leg back with consequent rotation and lifting of the pelvis. We introduce, therefore, the concept of movement, balance and weighting of which Myron is among the first important experimenters. Cicero said that, although his sculptures had not fully reached the truth, they could not but be considered beautiful (according to a canon of beauty to be understood as a perfect imitation of nature, which only in the fully classical age can be said to have been achieved). Myron directs his research towards movement: in his Discobolus (460-450 B.C.) the artist chooses to capture the moment immediately before the launch, suggesting to the observer the natural continuation of the action and its dialogue with the surrounding space.

Ephebus of Krytios, 480 a.C. ca, Museo dell’Acropoli, Athens

Discobolus of Myron, Lancelotti copy, 450 a.C. ca, Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome

Space is, in fact, the true dimension and measure of our being and living in the world. Even time as such is nothing but a different elaboration of space, which expresses the distance between different events that can directly or indirectly involve the individual.

With Polyclitus of Argos the perfect synthesis between movement and stasis, between pondering and proportion is reached, paving the way for the experience of classical art. In his Doriphoros (ca. 450 B.C.), the artist put into practice the studies collected in his Canon, a treatise in which he reasoned on the concepts of proportionality and symmetry of the human body. Pliny the Elder writes of him that he is the only artist to have theorized art with one of his works. Theories that history delivers in the hands of future generations, which over the centuries will return several times to relate to these ideal models of perfection, until you say that the imitation of the Greek model is the only way to achieve the same ideal of beauty pursued by the classics.

A beauty of which the Greeks experience both naturally, caring for mind and body, and through study and intellectual abstraction for the creation of a model that transcends physical reality and is the manifestation of a "spiritual nature, conceived only intellectually."

Doriforo of Polyclitus , original 450 a.C.- roman copy end of II century B.C., original in bronze and copy in marble, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Villa dei Papiri, Naples

Every single element of the human body is traced back to a universal model of Beauty: from the features of the forehead and nose (often protagonists in Johann Joachim Winckelmann's reflections on ideal beauty) to the folds of the body, which "a slight curve gives rise to the guise of a wave". The concept of "noble simplicity and quiet grandeur" of the Greek classic, coined by Winckelmann, the German librarian, art historian and archaeologist, echoes in the mind like the verse of a poem. The model is that of the sculptural group of the Laocoon (marble copy of the I B.C. - I A.D.) torn by an atrocious suffering completely obscure to the observer. Not a disturbance transpires from the eyes or the movements of the body. An extremely contained pain, index of greatness and nobility of soul. In this imperturbability of the spirit and of the body, the true essence of Beauty, which allows itself to be admired, restoring peace and calm to whoever observes it, while in the depths the storm rages.

Laocoon, 40 - 20 b.C., parian marble, Vatican Museums, Vatican City