Beauty vs. “Art”:

Humility in the artist is his frank acceptance of all experiences, just as Love in the artist is simply that sense of Beauty that reveals to the world its body and its soul.       ~ Oscar Wilde

I have noticed that people often — and I think unconsciously — use the words “art” and “beauty” interchangeably.  As if one equates with the other.  When you think of it, that’s kind of odd, don’t you think?

Well, what is the relationship between “Art” and “Beauty?” Wonderfully, it is a couple of guys writing about Chaos Theory that put it best, I think. In their book “Seven Life Lessons of Chaos” John Briggs and David Peat state: “Nature makes its fractal forms out of matter and energy. The material of art includes human consciousness, as well.”

Art is our human recognition, interpretation and expression of Beauty; a manifestation of the need to replicate Beauty.

So I use the term “art” primarily to refer to the man-made kind, in order to stay out of the thorny peripheral issues concerned with “what constitutes art ” (which is another purview altogether, and someone else’s –many other elses, really– book(s)).  My working distinction here is between man-made art, vs. nature’s “creation.”  I use ‘creation’ to mean all that is (both seen and unseen by the human sensory system) arising from the organism we think of as the Universe –our Earth, Sun, the skies, neutrinos, space, bosons – Everything —  what I call “The Is-ness.”

photo by Lisa Z. Lindahl

Often the natural world, creation, is many people’s first and most direct experience of the Beautiful: a glimpse of the sky, trees, clouds, sunlight; the sound of birdsong, waves kissing the beach, rain on a window pane, or the smell of soil and small green growing things.  We shiver with elation at our encounter.

Yet we must also include that which may not come to us through our bodily senses, but perceived by the heart, or as Diarmuid O’Murchu phrases it: “only the heart can intuit the quantum.”  We resonate with certain external or internal  vibrations.  We “sense” what is beautiful for/to us in ways and on levels for which there may not yet be words to give it articulation.  Think of friendships that form almost instantly — we resonate, literally, with someone.

In response to our individual perception of True Beauty, we create.  We make or modify stuff.  We infuse our humanity and individuality into that which has resonated with us.  We make visual representations, symphonies, architecture, relationships, philosophy.  We create “Art” from a deep experience of True Beauty.  One might say True/Deep Beauty is the maker’s muse.  I believe the quest for True Beauty is also Creation’s muse.

Starry Night - painting by Vincent Van Gogh
Starry Night – painting by Vincent Van Gogh

“Art is not found only in the painter’s studio or in the halls of a museum, it also has its place in the store, the shop, the factory and the home….”   Thomas Moore

But I am not a rose-colored glasses kinda girl.  Trauma, and that with which we resonate negatively  can move us to create as well.  Seems to me that while Beauty may inspire us to replicate it, negativity needs to be regurgitated out of our being.  Regardless of the impulse, the process of making art can be healing.

Many things mankind creates are not Art.  And all Art is not Beauty-full.  Hence, my need to make a distinction between Art and True Beauty.



  • loved this “only the heart can intuit the quantum.” and your distinction that negativity needs to be “regurgitated” out and sometimes that turns out to be art. your posts are thought provoking and brings me to a higher vibration!

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