Cooper Hewitt Triennial Offers a Bold Look at ‘Beauty’
2016 KEN JOHNSON, NYTimes, C29
From the NYTimes website: This year’s version of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s always interesting Design Triennial boldly ventures to tackle one of the most controversial topics in today’s visual culture. With more than 250 works by 63 designers from around the world in a jam-packed, two-floor show, “Beauty” is a mixed, visually cacophonous bag in terms of quality. But whether or not everything in it qualifies as incontrovertibly beautiful, it’s an exciting opportunity to meditate on the perennially confounding questions: What is beauty? And what is it good for? For thinkers from Plato to Keats, the beautiful was a universally supreme notion on par with Truth and Goodness. But with the rise of Modern art and its frequently obstreperous challenges to conventional taste, beauty became suspect as an artistic goal. Progressively minded critics these days tend to evaluate art and design for their abilities to promote new ideas and behaviors, usually in favor of politically liberal aims. Mere beauty has come to be seen as a conservative — if not morally decadent — value. Continue reading here.