Beauty is widely defined as the aesthetic quality of particular objects, which makes these objects enjoyable to see. Such objects may include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and unique works of art. Beauty, with art and beauty, is probably the most important theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of contemporary philosophy. It is the one thing that all the other branches share as a commonality.
The twentieth century has seen an immense development in the study of beauty. A variety of emotions have found expression in its manifestation: desire, identification, guilt, and so on. Modernity has seen the establishment of several national identities through a proliferation of national and local museums; aesthetic beauty has also played a key role in the creation of national identity a popular Romantic idealism. The twentieth century has also seen the rise of several nationalisms, most significantly, a tendency towards homogenous national states in Europe and the United States, the desire for assimilation and, in the case of the US, the creation of an African-American ethnic group, Aussies, that were often perceived as having a more traditional cultural heritage.
In the 20th century, the search for beauty has found new shores and taken to shore too, in the form of abstract art and surrealism. It is the first wave of an aesthetic movement that would redefine beauty in the twentieth century, entire painting canvases without reference to anything real. The movement would ultimately define the meaning of beauty in the modern age.
One of the foremost philosophers of his time, Immanuel Kant is credited with the term ‘value’ or ‘worth’ as the fundamental concept of beauty. He is said to have rejected the subjective idea of beauty altogether. Beauty, according to Kant, is determined only by the human eye, and not by any external standards or criteria. Others follow in his footsteps, and opine that beauty is something distinct and individual to a person, and that there is no universal standard for beauty. The two views differ fundamentally on the nature of value.
In a related view, value may be defined as the sum of satisfaction of satisfying human wants. According to this concept beauty is objective in nature, independent of humans and therefore not dependent on the culture and societal context in which it finds itself. On this view, beauty is timeless and independent of personal points of view. This approach, however, remains controversial and is currently not generally accepted within the art world.
With time and certain key artistic breakthroughs, the definition of beauty has evolved notably. Modern art, for instance, has tended to depict bodily and emotional elements more prominently, and has sought to capture the viewer’s attention and interest through images and the works that are both inventive and disturbing. This approach, common in conceptual art, lends a contemporary flavor to beauty and allows it to appear on various surfaces and in various sizes.