Do you believe this? It can be confusing, can’t it. As an artist I like to think I have a broad yet discerning eye for beauty. I think many things are beautiful. Many people, many objects, many places. But I don’t think everything is beautiful.

But I also know that what I find beautiful is not what everyone does. And what I find ugly someone finds beautiful.  All you have to do is look at style trends in clothing and makeup for women to see how different the idea of beauty can be around the world. The same is true of music. Think of how dissonant music from other lands sometimes sounds to your ear. Then realize that same music is heard as sublime in the country of origin.

There is the famous story of Tchaikovsky’s first playing of the ‘Rite of Spring’ ballet. It was thought of as so terrible it provoked an actual riot in Paris, 1913 at it’s debut.  You can read the story about it here.  But when it was played a year later it was met with tremendous applause. Why the radical change in response? Because the dissonance heard the first night, so screeching and grating, was no longer heard the same way a year later. The listeners were able to hear the rhythms, the harmonies, the structure the second time around.  The were able to hear the beauty.

And so, while as an artist I have my ideas of beauty, I also am wise enough to know that just because I don’t think something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s not. It just isn’t to me.

Not Everything?

So, The question should be asked, if everything is beautiful, how can something not be? My take on it is not that something isn’t beautiful. It’s that it is more than just beautiful. Beauty is but one filter through which we see the world.  We also have filters of love and hate, of statistics and science. We have filters of history and time, of biology and spirit.  In other words, while everything is beautiful, it is not all it is.  Everything is other things as well.


What examples can you think of that show something ugly eventually becoming something seen as beautiful? What or who do you think is beautiful?  What else are they?


Drawing & commentary © 2015 Marty Coleman |

Quote is Anonymous


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