Beauty and Contemporary Art: Locating the Notion of Beauty in Jeff Koons Series Balloon Dogs

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During the 19th century, the opinion that beauty could only be expressed through art was prevalent - one even thought that beauty was essential to art. One way for art to acquire beauty was by imitating nature. Objects in nature possess organic forms of what was considered as being beautiful. Masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, aimed to perfect their techniques of naturalism. The notion of beaux arts was created. Now, hundreds of years later, the notion of beauty is highly avoided while referring to art. One can even say that it is a crime to speak of it and to refer to it. Contemporary Art is striving towards a reduction to the very essence that makes art become art. But where does that leave the concept of beauty in contemporary art? Through the examination of history, philosophy and theory, a deeper understanding of contemporary art will be achieved and applied on the “Balloon Dog” series by the American artist Jeff Koons. This thesis strives to answer the following questions: How is beauty perceived by its viewer? Can beauty help us to navigate contemporary art? Is beauty still a component of contemporary art or has it become an antidote? Is beauty a component of Jeff Koons Balloon Dog?
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