Good art imitates nature.
St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the two greatest philosophers (and the Greatest Doctor of the Catholic Church), follows Aristotle, the other greatest philosopher, when Aristotle teaches:
In general, art either imitates the works of nature or completes that which nature is unable to bring to completion.
These words of Aristotle are in his work called the Physics, book II, ch. 8, 199a15 ff; St. Thomas Aquinas affirms and comments on Aristotle’s teaching in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, Book 2, Lecture 4.
Beautiful art must follow the natural principles of beauty, including symmetry and proportion.
St. Augustine teaches that “in all the arts it is symmetry [i.e., proportion] that gives pleasure, preserving unity and making the whole beautiful”. On True Religion, §xxx, #55.
The “art” called “modern art” tends to be gimmicky and utterly devoid of the beauty and worth it should have. For example, there are many museums of modern art that proudly display totally-white canvases as “art”.
See, e.g., a photo of three totally-white canvases which are displayed as “art” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Such white canvases are all from modern “artists” who are well-established—otherwise those canvases could not be “known” as the “great art” they are acclaimed to be.
The praise given to such “art” arises from two kinds of human respect—pretentiousness and the herd mentality:
Also, “modern art” tends to be disordered. See, e.g., this painting (immediately below) by Jackson Pollock—on display currently (in mid-2018) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles:
Jackson Pollock'™s Number 1, 1949: A Conservation Treatment Installation View 01
By contrast to “modern art”, the truly beautiful and good art is very ordered because it takes after God Who is most beautiful, most orderly, and Who is the cause of all order.
St. Augustine explains: “Everything is beautiful that is in due order”. On True Religion, §xli. #77. St. Augustine further teaches, “Order is the distribution which allots things equal and unequal, each to its own place”. City of God, Bk. XIX, ch. 13.
As Sacred Scripture infallibly tells us about God, He “ordereth all things sweetly.” Wisdom, 8:1 (emphasis added).
The art of Pablo Picasso is a great example of the evils and ugliness of modern art. Leaving aside many of the other evils of Picasso’s art—e.g., its impurities—his “art” is simply ugly and inherently disordered. Further, it breaks the cardinal principles of beauty, e.g., symmetry and proportion.
We can see the ugliness and evil of Picasso’s bad “art” by seeing only a few examples (below) of the noses he paints on the human face. Here are four examples among very many:
(Above) Painter and Model, 1928 by Pablo Picasso. This painting contains two “faces” and two “noses”.
(Above) Dora Maar au Chat by Pablo Picasso
(Above) Portrait of Dora Maar, 1937 by Pablo Picasso
(Above) Portrait of Sabartes, 1939 by Picasso
These Picasso noses are only a few examples of his large portfolio of very bad art.
The Doctor of the Church, St. Basil the Great, warned us about bad art painted by men like Picasso, seeking to gain attention through shock, rather than skill. Here are St. Basil’s words:
Bad painters ... gain prominence for their pictures by a distorted nose or by some swelling or defect of nature or accident ....
Here is the longer quote:
Bad painters will gain prominence for their pictures by a distorted nose or by some swelling or defect of nature or accident, so the envious are adept at distorting the appearance of what is good, at calumniating virtue through its opposing vice.
St. Basil’s sermon On Envy, quoted from Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, vol. 4, page 146.
Picasso’s “art” is exactly the type of “art” St. Basil warns us about! Any man of common sense sees St. Basil is correct.
Picasso’s paintings are ugly and disordered. Such ugliness and disorder are repulsive to an ordered soul. To love and praise such disordered “art” plainly requires a soul correspondingly disordered.
This fact tells us something about Bishop Williamson’s soul (as well as Picasso’s). Recently, Bishop Williamson praised Picasso’s ugly, disordered art as “brilliant”. Here are Bishop Williamson’s own words:
Picasso was a personal scoundrel, but his art, purely as art, is brilliant.
Eleison Comments, June 2, 2018; #568 (emphasis added).
Modern art is a prime tool of the devil. It weakens a man’s attachment to truth, beauty, and order—which are required for virtue and to make good judgments. Modern art fosters a man’s acceptance of dysfunction, evil, error, sin, and disorder.
Let us flee the evil of modern art and pray for the poor, deluded souls who love or praise it!