The beauty of Beauty

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Illustration of different ways of sitting, human beings

Do we sit on chairs and eat on tables for its proper function or is there also an aesthetic motivation behind it? And what is created to be functional should leave aesthetics out to maximize and focus on the function only? How do our senses work and why do they tend to conglomerate in the same idea of beauty? These are just few of the questions answered or simply addressed by Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh, creators of the exhibition Beauty, on show until the end of March in the MAK Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna.

The location itself is an architectural masterpiece in the style of the Neo-Renaissance, offering a permanent collection from different artistic periods: Viennese design from the 20th century, a Baroque, Rococo and Classicism section, Art Nouveau, Empire Style, Asian art. Currently it is possible to visit a commemorative and comprehensive solo exhibition of the works from Koloman Moser, an eclectic Austrian artist died one century ago; and Chinese Whispers, an exhibition taking Chinese contemporary art to Vienna. But let’s go back to our (my) focus.

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The main hall of MAK; art installation “Two hundred and Seventy”, artist Nils Voelker

Beauty is an interactive, informative journey into the concept itself, how we define and perceive things. This topic links as well to my last post where I talked about the difficulty – even impossibility – to identify parameters in art and, therefore, quantify the value of an artwork. “Beauty is a combination of shape, color, form, composition, material and texture to please the aesthetic senses, especially the sight”: this blue neon sign welcomes you in the majestic entrance of the museum, where a huge installation made with Two Hundred and Seventy (that is its title too) plastic bags following a programmed choreography, giving the idea of a huge sailing ship floating upon everyone’s head.

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“For Plato beauty is a moral value. What is good is beautiful, and what is beautiful is good.”

I love the arrangement of the exhibition, which spreads all over the museum: in different rooms, up the stairs, even in the toilets. One area is dedicated to the exploration of our senses, how we tend to have the same unconscious parameters to identify beauty. A consistent part of Beauty is inevitably, referring to the background of the authors, about design, being architecture or interior, facing the relative importance of aesthetics, functionality and environmental sustainability.

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The evolution of the drinking glass, ca.1500 – 2000

In the past, aesthetic was the driving force when designing something new, getting less and less importance with the development of technology and market needs. During the 21st century in particular it almost disappeared  – and this is nicely shown right in front of the entrance, with representative piles of books showing the trend of the use of the word itself  in literature throughout the centuries – to get recognition back in the last decades.

Few experiments and considerations are proposed on the concept of beauty, leaving the clear evidence that beauty is unnecessary, yet we need it. We search for it, we recognize it spontaneously. Sometimes it is everywhere, sometimes, hard to find; still I think it needs to be educated, and put in the right context. We can as well think about the different ways to interpret it among times, cultures, society. Said all this, let’s leave some space to personal taste and sensibility. And when we have different opinions, still we will get the same feelings and pleasure. Then we can talk about it: but in the end, emotions are what brings us to the same point. Enjoy (and bring) beauty, enjoy this Beauty if you can!

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Can we overlook the aspect for the benefit of our environment? Different examples of ecological and fair trade items: the book Small is beautiful from the research economist Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, the Mango Wooden Radio, the DIY Cellphone, a simple refrigerator (Terracooler) and water purification system (Watercone, Wadi and Life Straw)

Why beauty matters? This is the contest Sagmeister and Walsh launched within the exhibition. Have a look at their Instagram page to take part in, send the most beautiful thing you’ve ever made or seen.

Lucio and Duilio Forte, the architects of imagination

Today I would like to introduce you a very talented artist and friend I got to know already some years ago: Lucio Lars Forte. This time we move to Milan, more specifically in a peripheral area where open fields give a greener feeling of the city.

Lucio is Italian with Swedish origins; he studied architecture and from there started to develop his own, unique style, mixing different techniques and materials, joining architecture with painting and comics, another great passion of him.

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Sistema indipendente (Independent system), 2014, watercolor, Indian ink, glue on paper (48 x 98 x 3 cm)      – …now the base lives in an independent system… We can go      -Where to?

Together with his brother, Duilio Forte, as well an affirmed artist, he shares an old industrial plant renovated as studio atelier: Orygma, his own space, and AtelierFORTE. The latter serves as (but is not limited to) atelier and showroom; and everything about and inside this building complex is pure and mesmerizing art, thanks to the creations, sculptures and design elements from Duilio. Here is a video he made to present his atelier and works he created, truly worth to see.

Tipp Tapp, Duilio Forte 2018

I had the great possibility to visit the whole structure on different occasions, thanks to the warm and friendly environment present at every exhibition that Lucio organizes.

I ended up in this bucolic place after having read about a collective exhibition called Sottosuolo (Subsoil in English): just few but beautifully written words to introduce the overall concept of the selected works. I could see from the map that the place was reachable after a long way with the bus from the city centre; but careless I decided to go there. And finally, after many glossy and snobbish vernissages in the centre of the city, I could find an authentic one, a celebration of art with music, wine and people willing to interact with each other.

This is how the atelier may look like, in my opinion (and Lucio seems to confirm the inspiration).

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Lucio Forte 2009, oil on canvas (70 x 120 cm)

When I ask him how he would like to be presented, he tells me about immortality (modest!). He defines himself as an “architect deep inside the soul”, explaining that with his art he wants to create suggestions: illusionary maybe, but what gives us the opportunity to live more lives just by using the limitless power of imagination. Then, finally, we can reach immortality.

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Uomo giallo (Yellow man), 2015, oil, tempera on canvas (50 x 70 x 1 cm)

And science fiction offers a great setting for a new idea of immortality, by mixing science – the knowledge acquired by testing and proving – with its opposite and origin at the same time –fantasy. Then, everything becomes possible.

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Sottosuolo (Subsoil), 2013, oil on canvas (80 x 60 x 2 cm) from my personal collection

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Lipstick (Lipstick), 2012, mixed media on panel (78 x 70 x 2 cm)

Currently Lucio is starting a new project, Subcity Art Gallery, “a new underground  reality in the local artistic scene” where small-format selected artworks can be found at an accessible market. For the ones who may have the chance, don’t miss the opening on the 20th of September!

 

All the artworks with description and availability can be found on Artsper.

Head image: Lucio Forte 2009, mixed media on paper (21 x 30 cm)