Last year I attended a lecture entitled "What is Art?" given by Arthur Danto, Professor Emeritus in Philosophy from Columbia University and art critic for the New York Times and Art Forum. In defining art, he identified two criteria necessary for something to be deemed a work of art: 1) it has meaning, and 2) it embodies that meaning. (This inspired me to begin teaching workshops across the country based on concept development.) But, Danto asks, what about aesthetics? Should art have an aesthetic dimension? NO, he says. Beauty is important in life, but not in art. He cited Duchamp who viewed beauty as "retinal flutter" and pointed out the Dada movement as examples. So, Danto adds, beauty is important in life, and certainly is one of the virtues, but art isn't impoverished if it isn't beautiful. ART IS AN AESTHETIC OF MEANING, it needs conceptual weight.
I agree with Dantoto a point. Although I tend to make eggshells look beautiful, that's not the point. It's really about the concept - FRAGILITY - of the psyche, of life, of our investments and the beauty that can be found in chaos, in the fragments of our psyches, in the remains. If you'd like to read a really great opinion about all this, please read Margaret Ryall's blog: http://www.margaretryall.blogspot.com/. She wrote an informed response to my comments on Danto and beauty on her October 21st entry comments area. Take a look!