Art vs Beauty – Pf Photography Magazine

Published on: December 7, 2022

A booklet with the tantalizing title has recently been published ART versus BEAUTYwith the cryptic subtitle When stones dance with eggs, written by Adrian David. The underlying idea is immediately apparent through a quote after the title page: “It is better to appreciate art than to worship what looks beautiful.”

By Ton Hendriks

In this book, author, art collector and curator Adrian David defends real art, which contains a vision of man and the world, and opposes art as an investment object, as a gadget, as a possession, as an object. David tells passionately and in flowery language that art is always rich in interpretation, innovative and philosophical. More and more people are going to museums to see art, and art is gaining more and more influence, but there is often a lack of much-needed reflection on art.

It is beautiful

And here comes the angel. Many people still only see art as the embodiment of the abstract and vague notion of beauty. Adrian David writes: “In everything the public considers art, it expects to find its own invented standards of beauty.” We say all too often: it’s beautiful. But what that beauty is is not clear. It makes no sense anymore. Beauty is unreliable. In many words, beauty is written out of art and replaced by the deeper meaning. “Aesthetic beauty is obsolete.” “The aesthetic judgment of beauty was no longer important.” No, says the writer, you must be able to think of a work of art. Only then does it become important. Modern art, starting with Picasso, has understood that the concept of beauty had to be dismantled. But where is the value of art?

“Art is a cultural tool for questioning power.” There is a different sound here than blind worship. Modern art, says the author, and anarchy are inseparable. The artist is involved in the world. Banksy (who was recently active in Ukraine) is mentioned as an example. He and other artists make it clear that art is not made according to rigid rules of beauty. No, art brings a spiritual message. Art must be avant-garde, artists must be forerunners, such as Egon Schiele and Andy Warhol.


The art lover is encouraged to appreciate art more based on its meaning. “As long as these art weeks are talked about, we will continue to think about them and their existence is useful.” I can only conclude that Adrian David is absolutely right about this. Art is connected with freedom. A society where art is limited cannot think for itself. As a result, the citizens become speechless and also ghostly.

David explains that contemporary art is free, but the art buyer certainly isn’t. According to him, he conforms to the class he is in. Collectors probably buy to hide in their social class. They should learn more about the artwork and what it has to say. Away with the mass commercialization of art. The worst is e-commerce and NFT trading. This kind of trade silences art critics. The trade in the art trade does not leave room for innovation, according to David. David is enthusiastic and passionate and condemns the art dealer who has no eye for great art. She just wants average taste.

Without coming up with heavy aesthetic (read art theoretical) theories, David outlines the meaning of art. Art discovers reality in a new way, and the artist knows neither fear nor prohibition. Art and commerce are antagonists, and if art had not existed, economics would have been above all that exists.


The book Art vs beauty reads like a pamphlet, like a heartfelt plea for sincere appreciation of art and against the superficial admiration of bourgeois beauty. Thanks to the fluent language, you will be fascinated to navigate through the sentences. The statement is clear and I fully support it. Art has actually been disconnected from the classical ideas of beauty since postmodernism. We no longer live in Kant’s time with his intellectual approach to beauty. But where exactly the solution is to be found is not entirely clear. The last chapter is called The Protector, but his role is not discussed. Perhaps patrons should rescue artists from commercialism, just as they did in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when nobles often bought works of art to keep the artist alive.

©Barbara Kruger

It is a pity that David introduces photography as only a medium that freed painting from the urge for realism. Photography does not get much more than this marginal role in art history. “Photography was called to free painting from imposed forms and motifs.” It’s a missed opportunity. Of course, the booklet is not a complete historical survey of art, but I would like to read something else about photography. Revolutionary developments in art have also occurred in photography, especially in recent times. But at the end of the book he places an artwork by the postmodernist Barbara Kruger, who has done a lot with photography, but more in terms of deconstruction. So visually, the photograph has the last word.

Art vs beauty is a book that photographers should also read.

Adrian David Art versus Beauty Ludion Publishers, Brussels, Belgium

Dutch, 978-94-9303-971-1

English, ISBN 978-94-9303-982-7

French, 978-94-9303-981-0

Order the book here!

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