Sunday, September 25, 2011

Making the Useful Beautiful

"Democratic nations...will therefore cultivate the arts that serve to render life easy in preference to those whose object is to adorn it. They will habitually prefer the useful to the beautiful, and they will require that the beautiful should be useful."
This is something Alexis de Tocqueville wrote circa 1835 in his book "Democracy in America." I ran across it as I was working on my padfolios, which sort of fit into the "beautiful should be useful" thing. Do you think it is still true (if indeed de Tocqueville was correct in his observations) that democracies prefer the useful? And is that why there are so many struggling artists? Have you been seduced into offering "useful" art in the hope of sales?

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