Art Principles and History


What is beauty?

Humans are undoubtedly attracted to beautiful things. Beauty can be recognized in a golden sunset, a youthful face, or in any pleasing arrangement of forms and colors. However, the philosopher David Hume said, “Beauty is no quality in things themselves. It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.” Not only does this idea evoke the cliché, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but it also suggests that beauty doesn’t necessarily serve a purpose. We humans are interested in beauty for its own sake.

Art historians and philosophers are greatly interested in aesthetics, the study of art and beauty, which covers such questions as, “Why is this work of art beautiful?” and even the previously asked, “What is a work of art?” Art scholars are interested in understanding the way beauty relates to logic, morality, and the order of the universe. A question like “what is beauty” lies at the heart of the philosophy of art.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App