By: Diane Granahan
In this post we revisit our Uncontrollable Beauty series with a chapter focusing on painter and art critic Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s perspective on the relationship between beauty and the sublime. Here he points out that the idea of beauty in the art world is threatening and often tends to be deferred, or otherwise seen as merely beautiful. It is here that he explores the essential relationship between beauty and the sublime. Positing the work of Barnett Newman, whose paintings focus on visualizing the sublime and invisible limitless, seem to easily encapsulate philosopher Kant’s ideas that the beautiful is complete, whole, and framed, and the sublime is limitless and formless. Following Newman’s suit are two female contemporary artists: Karin Sander and Maja Lisa Engelhardt, both of whom create handmade artwork similar in their antitechnological approach. Both artists convey a refusal in their work that place beauty and sublime in a differential relationship connecting them in a contemporary context. In the end, the differential relationship between beauty and the sublime is that the former is surrounded by that which it is not, ultimately achieving a critical function by default and keeping the sublime from falling into something religious formed from negative critique.