Calling Beauty

Calling Beauty

The exhibition Calling Beauty examines the shifting parameters of what is considered beautiful in contemporary art today in relation to the historical weight and responsibility that art bears to fulfill expectations that beauty provides an experience of transcendence and thus assuage and ameliorate the challenges of our contemporary condition.


Thorsten Brinkmann, Moyra Davey, Elizabeth Gerdeman, Ellen Harvey, Matts Leiderstam, Ryan McGinley, Anna Molska, Susan Sontag, Eve Sussman/The Rufus Corporation, Darren Waterston

Columbus College of Art & Design, OH
February 17–April 10, 2010

Curated by James Voorhies

Made possible with grants from Greater Columbus Arts Council and Ohio Arts Council with support from Columbus College of Art & Design

In her essay “An Argument About Beauty” Susan Sontag traces the evolving definition of beauty from concepts of rarity and exclusivity to less discriminatory notions of it. While beauty is historically aligned with high culture, class and refinement elicited by old master and modernist art, for instance, Sontag delves into alternative notions of what is beautiful, pondering beauty in that not always considered as such.While Calling Beauty does not serve to illustrate Sontag’s essay, her words serve as valuable points of entry for considering what has been traditionally viewed as beautiful, how that view has influenced contemporary art, and how it has shaped, paradoxically, an aesthetics of the everyday.

Calling Beauty is organized around four pillars of reflection: still life, landscape, nude and portraiture. It includes work that draws peripherally and specifically on traditional subjects typically deemed beautiful within the realm of art. But, the works bring to the surface a retreat from that tradition to a contemporary reconsideration of it, thus a renewed engagement with historic artistic conventions.

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