Submitted by Randall Radic as part of our contributors program.
“More is different.” Especially when it comes to packaging and marketing beauty products. Avon has recognized this concept — the idea of beauty. Because of that, the company is poised for success. Avon borrowed the idea from the world of art.
Gerhard Richter, Europe’s most celebrated modern painter, asserts: “When you feel totally empty, you do this — but then I saw that one picture was actually better than another. Both were miserable, but the difference was interesting. I loved this: that there must be something, some higher faculty, some progressive sensibility that we find in abstraction. But it is impossible to describe.” Beauty?
Yes, Avon believes so. For Richter sums up his aesthetic theory with this simple sentence: “I believe in beauty.” And thousands of prints of his works are made each year, because there’s something ineffably wonderful about them.
There is, then, in the process known as fine art printing “something, some higher faculty, some progressive sensibility” that not only perceives, but seeks out in the ordinary fluxions of circumstance that fulsome richness, that passionate vividness, that casual elegance that is denominated beauty. The desire for beauty springs directly from an unfiltered, unedited, and unanalyzed imagination — we seek that which we don’t have in our own real lives. For beauty is excessive in its emotional as well as its physical expression. And mankind, the mechanical cloaca, wants to disappear into it, as into a dream.
Unfortunately, though, most of us have been brainwashed into the consumer worldview: to merely enjoy beauty, whether it be a poem, a picture, or a person, is a waste of time. We must produce a poem or a painting. And even that is disgraceful — better to be beautiful. Because what good is it if no one ever knows it, right? And even if it is known, that means nothing if it is not applauded and praised by one and all. Beauty achieves maximum value when it is recognized. It must be a success.
Now with all that being said, can beauty be measured? Can beauty be condensed into quantity? Well, ultimately, according to quantum mathematics, everything distills to quantity. But such numerical assignments overlook a plethora of phenomena in life — such as ‘faith’ and love. Mankind believes that if it can define and measure something, that it can then control that something. But the casuistry of definition is that the act of defining also defines the qualities that compose the definition.
So the attempt of this short essay — to define beauty — is probably futile. Because trying to define something that you can’t quite put your finger on, quite often destroys the endeavor. The answer to the question, “What is beauty?” depends upon your frame of reference. Thus it is doubtful that beauty can be measured. And if you could measure it, you might miss seeing it. That is, you would lose your appreciation for beauty in the data. Beauty, viewed and documented as statistics, dissolves into simply counting pretty beads. And most importantly, the very choice to measure beauty effectively determines the measurement. In other words, in order to measure beauty, one has to circumvent the beauty — thereby generating an entity that is neither beautiful nor ugly – and in the end, all it has become is an integer. One can know everything there is to know (measure) about a beautiful sunset, poem, or woman, and that still will not tell you whether or not they will have an emotional impact on this person or that person.
Irrevocably, though, Avon sides with Gerhard Richter: “I believe in beauty.” And more, Avon believes that beauty can be recognized and enjoyed. It also believes its products make beauty accessible to discriminating consumers.