Category Archives: Renaissance, the

We dare not protest at ugliness

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 09.51.33Social democracy has been disastrous for art and architecture

Dalrymple points to a fact that only an adolescent, a fool or a madman would contest, that the artistic production of

mediæval and renaissance Florence (with a population a seventh of that of Akron or a quarter of that of Croydon) is of greater value than that of the whole of the western world (with a population 7,000 times greater) for the last seventy years.

We social democrats, Dalrymple writes,

fear beauty and scarcely dare protest at ugliness. Since beauty is often and so obviously the product of unjust societies, we are afraid of it. Beauty is tainted by injustice; and since nowadays we value justice, fairness and equality above all things, and make them the touchstone of value, beauty makes us uneasy.

Replying in a public forum to an art critic of a British newspaper who extolled London as an art capital, Dalrymple gently pointed out that London’s entire contemporary output

was not worth one picture by Memling, and what’s more was never going to be.

Dalrymple told this critic that if London was really (which it is plainly not) an art capital city compared with all the others,

that only went to show how artistically impoverished the world had become.

In such an environment, one of near-circumambient modern ugliness, what is our artistic task? It is, writes Dalrymple, as far as we can

to preserve remnants.

Das Jüngste Gericht (detail), attr. Hans Memling, 1467-71, Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku

Attr. Hans Memling, Das Jüngste Gericht (detail), 1467-71, Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku

Il Duomo di Firenze: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, 1296-1436, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, dome by Filippo Brunelleschi

Il Duomo di Firenze: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, 1296-1436, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, dome by Filippo Brunelleschi