Classical and Renaissance Notions of Visual Beauty
Western and Non-Western Notions of the Ideal
●Images: (left) Michelangelo’s David, 1500-1501 and
(right) Idealized Male Figure from Mali, 15th-20th c.
European Modernism and Non-Western Art, late 19th-early 20th c.
●African , Asian, and Polynesian art inspire European artists such as Picasso, Gauguin, and
Matisse to question the role of beauty in art—its necessity, form, and purpose.
Images below: (left) Picasso, Girl with a Mandolin and (right) Mbuya Sickness Mask
European Modernism and Non-Western Art II
●Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1906-1907 (right) combined stylistic features of nonWestern art with a Western sensibility.
Beyond Picasso and an “Anti-aesthetic” in 20th c. Art—
●The Transformation of “Classical” Beauty
in Western Culture: From the Beauty of the Body to the Beauty of the Machine
● The Machine Aesthetic emerges in early 20th c. Europe and America
Image on the right: Lewis Hine’s Powerhouse Mechanic, 1925
Precisionism, or the Machine Aesthetic, in 20th c. American Art
Images: (left) Charles Sheeler’s Wheels (photograph), 1939 and (right) Sheeler’s River Rouge Plant (Ford Motor
Co.), 1932
Machine Aesthetic in America II
Images: Charles Sheeler’s Steam Turbine, 1936 and Charles Demuth’s My Egypt, 1932
Georgia O’Keeffe as Precisionist
Images: O’Keeffe, The Radiator Building and O’Keeffe, Light Lily
O’Keeffe, Nature, and Beauty
(Aesthetic Abstraction)
Images: O’Keeffe, Music—Pink and Blue and O’Keeffe, Cow’s Skull with Camelia
Russian Suprematism, 1915-1917 (Malevich, El Lissitzky, and Popova)
The Beauty of Abstraction and Geometry
Piet Mondrian and Pure Abstraction, 1930s and 1940s
(Seeking universals, including a universal beauty, in abstraction)
Images: Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-44 and Mondrian’s Composition
Wassily Kandinsky and the Beauty of Abstraction, 1910s to 1930s
(Seeking universals, including a universal beauty, in abstraction)
Modernist Architecture—The Marriage of the Machine Aesthetic and the Beauty of
Building: Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoy, France, 1928-30
Modernist Architecture (II)
Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoy (interior) and the Centre Le Corbusier, Switzerland
Christian Philosophy and Twentieth-Century Art (Kaethe Kollwitz)
●An anti-aesthetic in the service of social reform
Images: Kollwitz’s Mother with Dead Child, 1903 and Kollwitz’s Poverty
Kollwitz and The Weavers’ Rebellion Series 1890s—1900s
Kollwitz and Non-Western Art Models
Images: Kollwitz’s The Parents (grieving), woodcut and Sculpture from Tonga
The Value of Art for Christian Philosophers
●The Photographs of Sebastiao Salgado in the Service of Social Reform Today

Classical and Renaissance Notions of Visual Beauty