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THE WEATHER IS HERE, WISH YOU WERE BEAUTIFUL

ONE OF THE MORE IRONIC quirks of recent discourse on visual art is how seldom the word “beauty” crops up. A once seemingly natural thing has become cause for embarrassment, left to grudging asides and awkward hesitations. But of the many artists and critics who apparently spurn it, few would forfeit beauty’s enhancements in their own lovers, surroundings, or personal adornments without feeling a deep pang of regret. This attachment registers the nice disparity between the spontaneous generation of values and the sometimes duplicitous way in which these values are represented and perpetuated; because beauty’s necessarily subjective element exceeds the personal, ideology, too, proves to lie in the eye of the beholder.

Baudelaire attributed to beauty a twofold character: one part “eternal” and “invariable,” the other “relative” and “circumstantial.” He was concerned with how the cultivation

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