From Rubens to Rembrandt, we used to see art and beauty as inseparable, but in the 20th Century, beauty for many became a dirty word, as Duchamp's 'Fountain' set the tone for a radical new perspective in visual art. But was this an error? According to public surveys, we don't recognise many of the key works of the 20th Century as valuable art, only 12% consider Tracey Emin's 'My bed' as being worthy of the term. Critics like the philosopher Roger Scruton have gone further arguing "we are losing beauty, and there is a danger that we will lose the meaning of life".
Have we been hoodwinked by Saatchi, and the art market? Is contemporary art the ultimate advertising con in turning the valueless into the most highly valued? An exercise in money-making rather than an exploration of being? Or was much of 20th Century art right in viewing beauty as a clichéd dead end?
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