Letter From the Editor

Dear reader,

How dare I ask that question in this day and age? When we talk a lot about body-shaming and toxic beauty standards, asking that type of question may be seen as controversial. How dare I ask you to judge yourself by your beauty? Before closing this window because you don’t want to hear another stereotype and damaging vision on beauty standards, wait a second. Needless to say that before we jump to conclusions, a good definition of beauty is necessary.

            When we say someone is beautiful, we might be saying that the person’s appearance – their physical being – are pleasant to us. Or we may be saying that the person is kind, loving and caring. In that case, we are referring to beauty of the individual’s personality, on the inside. Regardless of what we mean, beauty is a matter of taste.

 So, yes, I still ask: are you beautiful? Not because I’m interested in what is your appearance. I’m more intrigued by what you make of that concept.

Numerous philosophers have inquired about the concept. Is beauty in the object or in the eyes of the beholder? Is taste for what is beautiful universal or does it depend on something more subjective? What is happening in our heads when we claim that something is beautiful? Is beauty a social construct? Or does it have an innate element to it?

            Instead of considering these questions obsolete or already solved, we decided to revisit them. Beauty in art may seem such an ancient question, completely challenged with the arrival of modern, abstract or post-modern art. The achievement of beauty in art has been left behind. It has ceased to be a practice focused on aesthetics only. The meaning, concept or experience of art is now what is important. Not that these elements weren’t important before, let’s make it clear. But beauty was the first step. An aesthetically pleasing object would convey meaning and allow for an experience. But long gone are the times where artists strove for a perfect representation of the perfect human body. Has beauty stopped influencing and guiding the art industry though?

            Throughout this month, you will dive into the beautiful side of the art world. It might make your eyes shine, or you might end up discovering its pervasive nature. How do beauty stereotypes affect the art industry? What are the different beauty standards that have shaped the representations that surround us? Have you heard of typecasting? And what about the sublime? Let’s make this a starting point for our exploration. And let us finish not by having all the answers, but by wondering about even more questions.

Welcome to our beginning
Giulia Cristofoli