Saturday, December 4, 2010

embodying the ugly

(Lady Gaga in Bad Romance, decked out in faux Polar bear fur coat, about to torch the man who bought her at auction, with a fire spurting bar.)

The poet makes use of the ugliness of forms: what use of this is granted to the painter? Painting, as an imitative faculty, can express ugliness: painting as a fine art cannot express it. In the first case all visible objects belong to it; in the second it includes only those visible objects that arouse pleasurable feelings [...]
The same holds for the ugliness of forms. This ugliness offends our eyes, clashes with our taste for order and harmony, arousing repugnance without our taking into account the real existence of the object we perceive as ugly. We should not like to see Thersytes, either in nature or in an image; and although his image displeases us less, this happens not because the ugliness of his form ceases to be ugly in an imitation, but because we possess the faculty of abstracting from ugliness, and we delight only in the painter's art. But even this delight is constantly interrupted by the reflection on how art has been badly employed, and seldom will this thought fail to bring with it the devaluation of the artist [...]
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, Laocoon (1766)

No comments: