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The Aesthetics of Ugliness in the work of Karl Rosenkranz

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2008, 27(), pp.39-60
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology

San Choon Kim 1

1서강대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

According to Karl Rosenkranz, ugliness and beauty are inseparably related to each other; as good and evil, health and illness, justice and injustice, grace and sin are inseparably related to each other. Rosenkranz placed ugliness between beauty and the comic. He presented the universe of ugliness through formlessness, incorrectness and disfiguration. He also presented the category of ugliness in terms of vulgarity, disgust and caricature. For Rosenkranz, therefore, beauty became the starting point, and the comic became the terminal. But he did not explain in detail what he understood by the comic. He only followed the process carefully leading to the comic from ugliness. Rosenkranz demonstrated this process in an empirical fashion with many illustrations from varying works of art and from various periods and culture. Why does art produce ugliness? Rosenkranz answered that simple beauty is the mere superficial exposition of the Idea. He thought that if we want to express the phenomenon of the Idea in totality, we have to express not only the positive aspect but also the negative aspect of the phenomenon. Art is the intuition of the Ideas. If art wants to express the * Professor of Sogang University dramatic depth of the Idea, it cannot avoid ugliness. For Rosenkranz, the ultimate ground of beauty is freedom. Beauty not only consists of form and correctness but also spontaneity and ensoulment, therefore lack of freedom is the mother of ugliness, lack of freedom ultimately becomes the caricature of beauty. Finally, Rosenkranz believed that apart from satire which has offensive movement, this caricature can return to beauty by way of humor by which he meant generosity and affection. Modern western aesthetics inquired into art-beauty, but contemporary western aesthetics seems to pursue art-ugliness. So now aesthetics became anti-aesthetics, art became anti-art. I think that Rosenkranz’s The Aesthetics of Ugliness(1853) was the most important pioneering book for contemporary aesthetics, because he thought that the remedy for art-ugliness is humor.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.