News at Princeton

Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

Web Stories

Symposium to focus on beauty and the arts, May 14

Is it necessary for works of art to be beautiful? Is it even acceptable? Artist Frank Stella, composer Milton Babbitt and poet C.K. Williams will address these and other questions at a symposium on "Beauty in Art, Music, Literature and Philosophy" at 3 p.m. Friday, May 14, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.

Philosopher Alexander Nehamas, the Edmund N. Carpenter II Professor in the Humanities, will introduce the issues and moderate the discussion.

Although it often has been taken for granted that art is inseparable from beauty, the very idea of beauty came under heavy attack during the 20th century. Having proved impossible to define philosophically, beauty also became the target of political and cultural criticism. Should artists, for example, produce attractive works when reality is plagued by devastating wars and social injustice? Doesn't beauty, which seems to be primarily appreciated through the senses, inhibit serious thought and reduce the arts to mere entertainment?

Much of the great literature, painting and music of the 20th century has seemed unattractive and obscure to many. Artists, scholars and critics recently have called for a return to works of art designed to be beautiful and pleasing. The symposium participants, who have contributed to this ongoing debate through their works and their critical views, will address the issues that surround the nature of beauty and its importance -- if any -- to the arts.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Council of the Humanities . To reserve a seat, call the Richardson Auditorium box office at (609) 258-5000. It also will be Webcast live.

Contact: Ruth Stevens (609) 258-3601

Back To Top