18 June 2012

Quote and questions

photo found by searching "useful beautiful need"
“Only the useless is truly beautiful. Everything useful is ugly since it is the expression of a need, and a man’s needs are, like his pitiful, infirm nature, ignoble and disgusting. The most useful place in the house is the latrine.”  

Theopile Gautier wrote this in 1835. Was he right? How does it fit in with William Morris's "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” - written half a century later? Does it apply today, does it apply to art? Can / should art be useful? Can / should art be beautiful?

Is the expression of a need necessarily ugly?


Kathleen Loomis said...

expressions of need can be quite lovely. dinner? babies? weaving? gardens?

actually some bathrooms are quite lovely too.

Sandra Wyman said...

That's a really ugly opinion about humanity from Gaultier - makes you wonder what his problem was - and surely eating and sleeping are as needful as excreting? Or is it just that when French writers decide to be miserable they tend to take it to the extreme?

Never been of the opinion that either art or beauty have to be useless. After all much of nature is beautiful and I can't think of anything natural that is totally useless (even wasps help control greenfly). Nor does art have to be beautiful - personally I prefer art which challenges (which conventionally beautiful pieces tend not to)...

Whatever else, that William Morris quotation is a very effective mantra to use whilst decluttering...

See you soon.