Art seems to have died at the end of the twentieth century, having outlived the death of God by a hundred years. At least, that’s what Nietzsche said at the end of the 19th century, in his Gai Savoir: “God is dead, and we have killed him”1. As for “contemporary art”, it no longer hides its only financial reality: its “securitizations of waste” echoing junk bonds.

Nevertheless, on the bangs of financial art, “hidden art” survives2; just as religious conversions continue: from that of Huysmans (1848-1907), at the very moment of the publication of The Gay Science, to that of Jean-Claude Guillebaud3 nowdays, for example.

This is why, de facto, neither God nor art are truly dead, and what we have killed was at most only their concept or idol: “Concepts create idols of God”, wrote Gregory of Nyssa4 Thus, “conceptual art”, which appeared in the 1960s, was already denouncing itself by seeking to define art, not by the aesthetic properties of the work, but by the simple concept of art.

So, despite the general secularization of culture, it seemed legitimate to us to go back in search of the sacred and art. There’s no doubt that we’ll be able to rediscover the exercise of the beautiful and the notion of the beautiful, even if the concept of beauty is ignored. Let’s retrace the journey from today’s official, media-driven pseudo-art to an “original” art, untainted by the needs of schools, to a transcendent “beauty” recognized as such. Of course, this journey will necessarily be succinct, extremely incomplete and, unfortunately here, Eurocentric – which is nevertheless permitted by an essentially Western secularization (and a specifically French secularist dogma). We’ll be looking in particular at notions of novelty, the artist as person, the sacred and the profane and, naturally, the beautiful.

Contemporary Art and Postmodern Philosophy

Our economic and cultural context, to put it bluntly, could be described as “postmodern” – in the sense of a critique of the modern world: in this case, commodity art and its “natural” transformation into financial art. However, this would be speaking too soon, because in the field of art, postmodernism, which breaks with modern art that tends to advocate novelty in defiance of all previous progress, designates, very precisely, an architectural and artistic movement that is not afraid of the past, but knows how to renew it by integrating it. On the other hand, in the philosophical realm, “postmodern philosophy” represents a break with the past. Born in the 1950s, it follows in the footsteps of the “masters of suspicion” (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud)5 to break definitively with the great rationalist systems of the philosophies of the Enlightenment. Pushed to its conclusion by Derrida (1930-2004), who wished to “deconstruct logocentrism”, we end up with the little-seen oxymoron: rationally affirming the decentering of reason!6.

Contemporary art fully subscribes to this oxymoron, inscribing itself in novelty or contemporaneity at all costs, while seeking to render obsolete all modern art, all Art Nouveau or, rather, all new art7. It breaks with all past forms to the point of meaninglessness, like a certain postmodern philosophy à la Derrida. This is the autonymic art described by Nikol Abécassis, works that are “no longer bearers of a meaning that goes beyond them [… but are] intended to be producers of their own meaning”8. Of course, contemporary art does not impose itself as the “unique art” by the sheer force of its bidets or dejecta9 of its featherless heralds10. Indeed, without the support of the State (in France and the United States, in particular) and, above all, of financial networks, which, as we know, are adept at creating fictitious liquidity, there wouldn’t even be such a thing as “cultists of the void” or “void speculators” in the closed circle. After all, “conceptual money” and financial art, conceptual art and fictitious money, can be compared: finance and art “can now produce as much money as they deem ‘useful'” (Aude de Kerros, “Les reliques barbares vont-elles terrasser les arts conceptuels?” (“Will barbarian relics bring down conceptual art?”), MoneyWeek, no. 111, Dec. 16-22, 2010, p. 44).

However, it’s not the financial art system as such that concerns us here, but its claim to be art. Admittedly, not all places and times have identified “arts” and “fine arts”, which, according to Hegel, are architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance and poetry11, and to which we can attach or add literature, theater, cooking, photography, cinema, etc.). Nevertheless, apart from contemporary art and its media supporters (i.e., at most, a few thousand earthlings), the whole world still seems to agree that the function of art is to appeal to the senses, to emotion, to feelings, not in an abstract way (the concept of art, which then speaks to reason), not in a counterpoint of questionable humor (horror or disgust will be emotions), but, quite simply, as producing an aesthetic emotion, the beautiful (not the prettiness, a painting of Earth’ horror can be beautiful).

If art shows what is beautiful, some people will look for the standard of beauty. And yet, in the absolute relativism of persistent structuralist thinking, we may believe that the standard varies according to place and time. This is not entirely untrue, but we must not forget the essential invariant: the existence of a standard. If the norm becomes “anything goes” (as long as it makes money), then we can no longer speak of a norm without once again falling into an oxymoron, a sophistical contradiction.

What’s more, beauty is not only normative (aesthetic), in the same way as truth (logic) or goodness (ethics), it is first and foremost – and like them – transcendental, i.e. a universal attribute surpassing all categories, notably the ten identified by Aristotle (substance-essence, quantity, quality, relation, time, place, situation, action, passion, having). If we retain five transcendentals (being, the one, the good, the true and the beautiful), we’ll see that they are convertible into each other. The term “transcendental”, moreover, will only appear obscene to the individual immersed in the illusion of his own light. As soon as we become aware of what is received, starting with meaning – that ungeneretable significance – we are condemned to an effective humility, a re-cognition of what lies beyond, a “reminiscence”, as Plato would say, of what we cannot therefore claim to have invented.

This is why, in any case, to affirm that there is neither beautiful nor ugly, as contemporary art attempts to do, is to refer in fine to the beautiful. To recommend choosing the ugly, because the beautiful would be a prejudice (cf. Derrida), to claim that “the idea of a great aesthetic for a great art [would be] the terrorist machine designed to deny this plural reality of artistic and aesthetic behavior”12, is still to affirm the beautiful. Failure to realize this is the error inaugurated by the ancient sophists, who claimed that there is neither true nor false, without realizing that the simple intelligibility of their discourse required that the terms used have a meaning. Contemporary art is thus no more than a distant replica of the earthquake initiated by sophistry, which Plato immediately dismissed as unfounded, but which remains an ever-recurrent, albeit illusory, temptation: a claim to creation, to the value of what one says or does, an illusion of sufficiency. What’s more, the absurd exclusion of beauty is even suicidal, as current psychiatry has shown the vital importance of beauty in psychic life: beauty makes you happy, while ugly environments make you depressed and unhappy.

But the pretension of contemporary art doesn’t stop at decreeing art – which is officialized by the State – or “beauty” – even if it means saying that it doesn’t exist – it plays at decreeing the “sacred”. This “sacred”, once the “work” has been reduced to a mere financial product, is quickly reduced to the very person of the “artist”; he is made “equal to God”, even though the latter is supposed to be dead. This ultimate contradiction of contemporary art definitively disqualifies it – at least in its discourse, since nothing prevents certain “contemporary” works from producing the forbidden beautiful.

Modern Art and Persistent Nineteenth-Centuryism

Contemporary art takes its “novelty at all costs” from modern art. Displaced by photography in the early 20th century, modern painting (Picasso) is condemned to novelty, to a permanent “avant-garde”, an observatory of the new modernity, such as that of Modern Times (1936) illustrated by Chaplin (1889-1977). But beauty must be found everywhere. As a result, non-figurative art developed, the number of mediums multiplied, and the artist himself grew in importance, so much so that the number of schools exploded. In this period alone, there were the schools of Art Nouveau (Klimt, Mucha…), Fauvism (Derain, Matisse…), Cubism (Braque, Léger, Picasso…), Futurism (Balla, Boccioni…), Expressionism (Kokoschka, Munch…), Abstraction (Kandinsky, Malevich…), Bauhaus (Kandinsky, Klee…), Constructivism (Gabo, Moholy-Nagy…), Dada (Duchamp, Ernst, Picabia…), Surrealism (Dali, Ernst, Magritte, Miró…), New Objectivity (“Neue Sachlichkeit“), Figurative Art (Buffet, Carzou…), Non-Figuration (Bazaine, Le Moal…), Art Brut (Dubuffet, Chaissac…), and so on. In such a scattering, the elements seem to disappear in favor of the sole differentiation that links them. Derrida’s neologism, coined no later than 1963, is a “non-conceptual concept”; for us, a sophomoric oxymoron: “Differance”, he writes, “is neither a word nor a concept: it is a bundle capable of thinking the most irreducible of our times”13. This search for the new seems to us the direct legacy of the nineteenth century, with its post-revolutionary upheavals, its triumphalist new sciences, its department stores, its industrialization of all objects, its invitations to travel. Its emblematic work was La Gare Saint-Lazare (“Saint-Lazare Railway Station”, 1877, Musée d’Orsay) by Monet (1840-1926); the paragon of its provocative spirit was Manet (1832-1883) with, in particular, his Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1862-63). The personalist excesses of Romanticism were opposed by Théophile Gauthier’s (1811-1872) l’art pour l’art/ “Art for Art’s Sake“( 1835), which promoted personal disengagement (sentimental, political, etc.) in poetry, in favor of formal, technical work. The Parnassians, following in his footsteps, would always insist on the absolute “gratuity” of their works. From art for art’s sake – depersonalized and formal – to today’s art for money – which crowns artists with often shapeless works – the distance seems unbridgeable. However, the innovations of the second half of the nineteenth century marked a clear break with the classics and antique themes. Art exhibitions like Salon des Refusés (1863), Salon des Indépendants (1885), Salon d’Automne (1903)… and Baudelaire (1821-1867) could conceive of the notion of “painter of modern life”, i.e. of popular everyday life à la Zola (1840-1902), but also of progress. Nevertheless, according to Baudelaire, this modernity remains “the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, half of art”, the other half still being “the eternal and the immutable”.

Classical and Religious Art

This “eternal and unchanging” comes from the so-called classical period, which runs from the Renaissance to Romanticism. There are, of course, many different periods: the Cinquecento (High Renaissance), the Quattrocento (First Renaissance), Baroque and Classical painting, Rococo, Neoclassicism… but they all have one thing in common: almost all works are religious, whatever the technical advances made (perspective or oil painting).

Of course, we can rightly distinguish between religious and sacred art, whether painting or music. Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle14 or Titian’s La Vierge au lapin15, while icons such as Rublev’s Trinity16, or the Issenheim Altarpiece17 or Gregorian chant, belong to the realm of sacred art. However, no matter how far it may be from the purely sacred, depending on the art form chosen, religious art would have no meaning without the sacred to which it refers, be it a bucolic Virgin and Child or a two-beat ritornello in certain liturgies.

If all religion refers to the sacred, we might ask, in view of postmodern “sacreds”, if all sacred refers to religion. Today, many postures are claimed to be areligious, but a “something” is perceived as sacred and recognized as such. If we look at the many adoptions of a certain Westernized Buddhism, or the many New Age-style inter-religious packages, we quickly realize that there is no such thing as the purely sacred, without cultural dressing – even if this is a composite recomposition. This is because the very essence of man lies in his perception of the meaning of things and actions, and therefore of the culture that indicates them to him. The wolf-child is a factual witness to this! To imagine oneself free of one’s own cultural frame of reference, the creator of one’s own personal hermeneutic, is yet another illustration of the illusion of complacency. Of course, no one can escape the hermeneutical work that each of us must perform for ourselves, but unless we believe ourselves to be the founders of a religion – i.e., the holders of a private revelation – this work can only be accomplished within the framework of a tradition, a Church, a community of faith; hermeneutics is necessarily, first and foremost, dynamic and collective, in short, cultural. To believe that we are new, that we are exempt, is indeed the illusion that the wolf-child has long denounced. As we can see, no truly sacred, i.e. mysterious and transcendent, can be approached without recourse to a religion that is both the repository of a revelation and the purveyor of a hermeneutic tradition.

This period of classical art, religious as it was, certainly saw the beginnings of individualism and the myth of the artist, but it was patronage that financed the art that “the people” would see in church. Even from a rationalist perspective, beauty is a “disinterested satisfaction” that is free of all concept and cannot be demonstrated: “What is universally pleasing without concept is beautiful”, wrote Kant (1724-1804)18. From the Renaissance onwards, the painter belonged to the “circle of intellectuals […] capable of defining the world”19, even if he was above all filled with Venus, triumphs of physical beauty.

Medieval and sacred art

We’ll be brief on the preceding thousand years of the Middle Ages, whether we’re talking about the Late Middle Ages (10th-15th c.), when the religious art of urban Gothic succeeded the more sacred art of rural Romanesque, or the High Middle Ages (5th-10th c.), which began with the conversion of Clovis and established the Church as the primary patron of art. Above all, beauty is sacred: artistic creation is dignified, an image of divine creation. Hence the uselessness of realistic representations and the very refined style of Cistercian and Carthusian aesthetics. Who could have imagined that moral beauty preceded the physical beauty of Renaissance Venus?20 It’s because, with the laudable aim of providing a majestic setting for the liturgy that would lead to the cathedrals, the celestial Jerusalem of Gothic art, a more ornamental aesthetic (Cluny) was to succeed the contemplative simplicity. This evolution is less visible in the East. This was the millennium of Byzantine art – from the fall of Rome (476) to the fall of Constantinople (1453) – in which Christianity combined Roman and Eastern traditions, and from which emerged, notably, the art of the icon: the sacred pictorial art par excellence – and which is still alive today.

This art of the icon could lead us to define sacred art as that which is concretely invested with the Transcendent, i.e. in its very “matter”, whereas religious art would only be in relation to the Transcendent in its intention and use. Nevertheless, if we consider the religious compositions (songs, hymns, sequences, liturgical dramas) of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), who conceives of music as a reminiscence of paradise, it would be hard to distinguish between sacred music and religious music, were it not for the strictly liturgical use of the former. Unlike the visual or plastic arts, medieval music is as much secular (courtly chant) as sacred (Gregorian or religious chants), but a notable difference between artists is immediately apparent. Sacred chants are virtually all anonymous, and although history has recorded the names of a few composers, they were mainly contributors, such as Notker le Bègue (c. 840-912), creator of the first tropes, or Thomas de Celano (c. 1200-c. 1270), given as the last editor-composer of the Dies irae. On the other hand, the works of the noble troubadours and later the trouvères were associated with their authors, many of whose names are still known, such as Chrétien de Troyes (c. 1135-c. 1185) or Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199). This is a far cry from the cult of personality devoted to contemporary artists or orchestrated around them.

Ancient Art and Sacred Beauty

The so-called “art of migration”, linked to the “barbarian invasions”, began around the year 300 and developed in a variety of ways according to the dispersion of the geographical areas invaded (hence the “barbarian arts”), before the Church, the only supranational force after the collapse of the Roman Empire, gradually unified them (the Germanic peoples were converted towards the end of the 7th c.).

Roman art – or “Roman arts” – once again covers a full millennium, from the founding of Rome (753 BC) to its fall. As with the strong Greek influence, from colonization (2nd c. BC) onwards, and that of the Empire’s distant provinces, the Romans were traditional and conservative; innovation was taboo: nova res was a pejorative notion. It was not until Greek art was well established in Rome (1st c.) that it was defended against new innovative tendencies, even though it was initially despised by the conquerors:

The Greeks were excessively passionate about their statues, paintings and other such monuments. The liveliness of their complaints shows how cruel these losses, which may seem frivolous to you, are to them. […] their passion is extreme for all these objects, which are of no value to us


In the oligarchic era, any artistic initiative by the Great Ones had to remain private; in a public setting, it had to be anonymous. This was no longer the case from the time of Augustus (AD 63-14) onwards, with Roman artists remaining largely anonymous. Indeed, there are no known Roman Praxiteles or Zeuxis, even though many of their works would be highly deserving of a signature. It has to be said that the Latin “artifex” (artist) meant “craftsman” rather than “creator”, as evidenced by their wages: 75 to 150 denarii per day for painters (also fed), 50 to 60 for stonemasons, marble masons and mosaicists (also fed), compared to that of a day laborer in the countryside (25 denarii)22. The quid pro quo was an extreme diffusion of art – still visible, to our eyes, in today’s Italy, where art is to be seen in every nook and cranny of towns and homes. In those days, everyone could express themselves artistically, and there were even “galleries” open to the public (the Atrium Libertatis, for example). While art and beauty were widespread and often profane, the theory of beauty in late Antiquity was essentially Neoplatonic (Plotinus, 204-270): contemplation of the Beautiful leads to the Intelligible, where Beauty is identified with the Unity on which all beings depend. This takes us back to Greek antiquity.

The thousand years of Greek antiquity should not be seen as monolithic. Indeed, there are several very different periods: the Geometric period (c. 1050-700), the Orientalist period (c. 700-625), the Archaic period (c. 625-480), the Classical period (c. 480-323) and the Hellenistic period (c. 323-31). Nevertheless, it is clear that, while beauty is a widely considered Idea, throughout this period, it is far from being linked to art; rather, it concerns morality and politics – in Plato (428/427-347/346), for example – and, of course, metaphysics.

Aristotle (384-322) did not really deal with either beauty or art in general. His Poetics, essentially, deduces rules from existing Greek tragedies. This is typically the kind of experimental science he founded. However, his theory of imitation (based on Platonic mimesis) can be applied to the arts: epic, tragic poetry, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, flute-playing, zither-playing23. They imitate nature, and even achieve what nature cannot, since what counts is the knowledge of things that comes from it:

The fact of imitating is inherent in human nature from childhood; […] the first knowledge he acquires, he owes to imitation. III. The proof is in what happens with artistic works…


As for the Aristotelian concept of catharsis, the purification of the passions through dramatic representation, it only shows us the psychological or social functions of the art of theatre. (Charles Lévêque, “Esthétique”, Nouveau dictionnaire de pédagogie et d’instruction primaire, dir. Buisson, 1911, ed. elec., (fb document. php?id=2678). This idea can be found in substance in “Lettre à Alexandre sur le monde”, La Politique…, Paris: Lefèvre, Charpentier, 1843, ch. I, 3 and II, 1. )) and Aristotle’s various theories will have been advantageously integrated into classical aesthetics by Boileau (1636-1711), for whom “beauty is the consequence of truth” (which every good poet has the mission of expressing by producing a work governed by naturalness)25.

Plato, though hostile to art such as poetry and painting (they are unfaithful copies – eikastikè), is nevertheless the apostle of beauty. From this point of view, Plato goes further than the “Socratic aporia”, where the beautiful, common to a beautiful virgin, a beautiful cavale or a beautiful lyre – or even a beautiful pot – cannot be found:

HIPPIAS: “The questioner, don’t you think, Socrates, wants to know what thing is beautiful?”; SOCRATE: “I don’t think so, Hippias; he wants to know what is beautiful”; HIPPIAS: “And what difference is there from this question to the other?”; SOCRATE: “Can’t you see any?”; HIPPIAS: “I can’t see any”, etc.


But is this really an aporia? Is there nothing to understand behind the fact that a beautiful woman is more beautiful than a beautiful pot? Yet the body, barely hinted at, is celebrated by the lovers of the Shir ha-shirîm, the Song of Songs (10th c. BC). C. ); “woman is undoubtedly the highest type of earthly beauty”, as the ascetic Ibn Arabî (1165-1240) would say much later; and Djelâl ud-Dîn Rûmî (1207-1273) would add: “the poet contemplates in woman the eternal beauty that is the inspiration and object of all love, and he looks upon her as the mediator through whom this uncreated beauty reveals itself and exercises its creative activity”27. Is there no relationship between woman, the emblem of all beauty, and the feminine gender (in French) of all the arts (Hegel’s lists as well as Aristotle’s)? What Socrates teaches, we think, is that the best rhetorician will exhaust himself in rationally defining beauty, whereas the emotion of beauty brings intuition of its essence. In Plato’s pupil Aristotle, the founder of science, mathein (to know) is just as much pathein (to experience). What he associates is even theomathein and theopathein, for it is only in this case that theoretical knowledge is inseparable from lived experience28.

If Plato goes further in the Banquet, he does so explicitly: he shows how we can move from the desire for beautiful bodies to the love of beautiful souls, to achieve the contemplation of beauty itself. Initiation into Beauty takes place in three stages: purification, ascent and contemplation. Beauty belongs to a sphere that is superior to that of the senses and the understanding; it is something intelligible, addressed to the mind:

He must consider the beauty of the soul as far more elevated than that of the body, so that a beautiful soul, moreover accompanied by few external amenities, [210c] suffices to attract his love and care […] By this he will be led to consider the beautiful in the actions of men and in laws, and to see that moral beauty is everywhere of the same nature; then he will learn to regard physical beauty as little. From the sphere of action, he will have to pass to that of intelligence and contemplate the beauty of the sciences; thus [210d] arrived at a more extensive view of beauty, free from slavery [… …] launched on the ocean of beauty, and entirely devoted to this spectacle, he gives birth with inexhaustible fecundity to the most magnificent and sublime thoughts and discourses of philosophy; until, grown up and established in these higher regions, he sees only one science, that of beauty […].

 [210e] He who in the mysteries of love has advanced […] by a progressive and well-conducted contemplation, reached the last degree of initiation, will suddenly see appearing to his eyes a marvellous beauty […] : [211a] eternal beauty, unbegotten and non-perishable, exempt from decay as well as from increase, […]; beauty which has no sensible form […]; which is not either such thought or such particular science; which does not reside in any being […]; [211b] which is absolutely identical and invariable by itself; from which all other beauties participate. , in such a way, however, that their birth or destruction brings neither diminution nor increase nor the slightest change to it. When from these inferior beauties we have risen […] [211c] from beautiful bodies to beautiful feelings, from beautiful feelings to beautiful knowledge, until, from knowledge to knowledge, we arrive at knowledge par excellence, which has no other object than beauty itself, and we end up [211d] by knowing it as it is in itself. […] what can give value to this life is the spectacle of eternal beauty. […] [211e] what would not be the destiny of a mortal to whom it would be given to contemplate the beautiful without mixture, in its purity and simplicity, […] to whom it would be given to see face to face, in its unique form, the divine beauty! […] [212a] And is it not only by contemplating eternal beauty with the only organ by which it is visible, that he will be able to give birth to and produce in it, not images of virtues, because it is not to images that he is attached, but real and true virtues, because it is truth alone that he loves? Now it is to him who gives birth to true virtue, and nurtures it, that it belongs to be cherished by God; it is to him more than to any other man that it belongs to be immortal.


If the defining formulas “the beautiful is the splendor of the true”30 or “le beau, c’est l’unité dans la variété” (“beauty is unity in variety”) are “absolutely nowhere to be found in Plato’s works”31, at least the former is almost certainly to be found in Heraclitus (late 6th c.), for whom beauty is the material quality of truth. For Pythagoras (580-495), we know above all that numbers and proportions play a major role in Harmony and Beauty, whether mathematical or cosmological. If we go back to the “mythical” Homer (late 8th century), we’ll find that he speaks of “beauty” and “harmony”, but we’ll miss the explicit theory. At the very least, we know that, by artistic work, he meant manual labor in which an active divinity shone through.

The Sacred in Art: Towards a Metaphysics of the Beautiful

If we have to conclude here on what this retrospective panorama shows us, we’d say that, apart from the contemporary period, which seems to us to be distorted by dogmatic atheism, it is indeed up to the most remote historical periods (Homer) that we see God at work in human co-creation, even if this is outside of a future Christianity, even if it is outside of all artistic creation.

Our conclusion, then, is that, as a foundational function, beauty reveals the sacredness of art, and that art awakens religious awareness of beauty. Since the function of art is to provoke aesthetic emotion, and beauty offers its transcendent or sacred character, all true art, even cinema32, will be more or less sacred and consequently religious.


  1. Nietzsche (1844-1900), “L’insensé” (aphorismes 125), Le Gai Savoir (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, La gaya scienza, The Gay Science, La gaya ciencia), 1882.[]
  2. Aude de Kerros, L’Art caché : les dissidents de l’art contemporain (“Hidden Art: the dissidents of contemporary art”), Éd. Eyrolles, 2007.[]
  3. Cf. his Comment je suis redevenu chrétien (“How I became a Christian again”), Albin Michel, 2007.[]
  4. De vita Moysis, PG44, 377B. Yet it was this 4th-century bishop of Nyssa in Cappadocia, and Father of the Church (331/335-v. 395), who developed the (non-conceptual) theology of the Trinity.[]
  5. This expression coined by Paul Ricœur (De l’interprétation. Essai sur Sigmund Freud, 1965) then encompasses Heidegger and Derrida (La métaphore vive, 1975[]
  6. Cf. the work of Jean Borella in La crise du symbolisme religieux, published by Angelico Press: The Crisis of Religious Symbolism.[]
  7. Let’s say “new art”, in fact, since “Art Nouveau” (or Modern Style) refers to the brief – but powerful – artistic movement at the turn of the century (1900), opposed to mechanical reproductions (industrial, in particular) and founded on the aesthetics of curved lines (including in architecture).[]
  8. Nicole-Nikol Abécassis, Comprendre l’art contemporain, l’Harmattan, 2007, p. 85.[]
  9. Cf. The scatological “artists” Manzoni, Roth, Murobushi, Brus, Warhol, Delvoye…[]
  10. Previously, in France, heralds wore a “purple hiccup embellished with gold fleurs-de-lis in embroidery, […] with a kind of toque on the head covered with white & purple feathers”; Dictionnaire de la langue française ancienne et moderne by Pierre Richelet (1680).[]
  11. Cf. Hegel’s Aesthetics or Philosophy of Art (1770-1831), published posthumously.[]
  12. Henri Michaud (1899-1984), quoted by Aude de Kerros, “La grande crise métaphysique de l’art” in, collectif, Qu’est-ce que la métaphysique?, l’Harmattan, 2010, p. 114.[]
  13. Marges de la philosophie (“Margins of Philosophy”), ed. de Minuit, 1972, p. 7.[]
  14. Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) composed it in 1863 (it was premiered the following year); it was, he said, “the last mortal sin of my old age”.[]
  15. The Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and a Shepherd, known as “The Virgin and Child with a Rabbit” (c. 1525-1530) by Tiziano Vecellio, known as Titian (1488/1490-1576), Paris: Musée du Louvre.[]
  16. The monk and painter Andrei Rublev (c. 1360/1370-1427/1430) was recently canonized. His famous icon (painted between 1422 and 1427 at the Holy Trinity monastery near Moscow) is a meditation on the mystery of the Trinity, with a density unmatched by many theological exposés. It can be seen at Moscow’s Tretyakov National Gallery[]
  17. Dedicated to St. Anthony and originating from the Antonine Convent in Issenheim, the painted section (1512-1516) is the masterpiece of Matthias Grünewald (c. 1475/1480-1528). Produced in a “beyond styles” of painting: realism as well as surrealism, the paintings thus appear very minimally dated. They can be seen at Colmar’s Unterlinden Museum.[]
  18. Critique du jugement, suivie des Observations sur le sentiment du beau et du sublime (Critique of Judgment, Followed by Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime), Paris: Ladrange, 1846, p. 94.[]
  19. Magali Lesauvage, “Petite histoire de l’art moderne”, online, URL :, accessed March 15, 2011.[]
  20. “Le beau : du moyen âge à la renaissance”, cycle de visites n°15/Inter-départements du Musée du Louvre (hall Napoléon), February 4 to March 18, 2011[]
  21. This is the famous word of Cicero (106-43), “Discours IX, Seconde action contre Verrès (Second case against Verres), livre IV, Oratio de Signis”, LIX, LX, Œuvres complètes, t. 2, Paris: Didot, 1869, trans. Guéroult, p. 306. Ciréron denounces the thefts carried out by the moneylender Verres, the majority of which were statues[]
  22. We know these figures from the Edict of the Maximum (301) of Diocletian (c. 245-313), which set food and wage prices to curb inflation. This Edictum diocletiani et collegarum de pretiis rerum venalium, and especially its chapter on wages (VII. de mercedibus operariorum de aeramento. de mercedibus oper[arior]um) can be found on the website of the Université Pierre-Mendes-France de Grenoble, URL: http://web. htm, accessed March 27, 2011.[]
  23. Poetics, ch. II, 1 & 3-5.[]
  24. Poetics, ch. IV, 2-3.[]
  25. Roger Zuber, Dictionnaire du Grand Siècle (dir. F. Bluche), Fayard, 1990.[]
  26. Major Hippias (On the Beautiful), trans. Émile Chambry.[]
  27. These last considerations and quotations can be read in Jean Biès, Paysages de l’Esprit, Arma Artis, 2011, pp. 308-311.[]
  28. This pun by Aristotle is reported by Synesius of Cyrene [Dion, 10], cf. N. Turchi, Fontes Historiae Mysteriorum Aevi Hellenistici, Roma, 1930, no. 83, p. 53; Borella, Lumières de la théologie mystique (“Lights of Mystical Theology”), Lausanne: L’Âge d’Homme, 2002, p. 85. Dom Pierre Miquel notes this from pagan philosophy and mysticism: to-i pathei mathos (“suffer and you will know”, Aeschylus [c. 526-456], Agamemnon, 177) to the Epistle to the Hebrews: emathen aph-on epathen (“he learned by what he suffered”, He 5:8); Le vocabulaire de l’expérience spirituelle (“The vocabulary of spiritual experience”), Beauchesne, 1989.[]
  29. Hippias Major, ibid.[]
  30. Thus we see Ingres searching for both the beautiful and the true; Louis Flandrin, Hippolyte Flandrin, Paris: Renouard, Laurens, 1902, p. 23.[]
  31. Lévêque, “Esthétique”, op. cit.[]
  32. Cf. Pamphile, “Le cinéma peut-il être un art sacré?” (“Can cinema be a sacred art?”), Voies de sagesse chrétienne. Méditation sur l’Ascension (“Ways of Christian wisdom. Meditation on the Ascension”), L’Harmattan, 2006[]