Theory and practice of beauty | ICON

Theory and practice of beauty | ICON
Theory and practice of beauty | ICON

The chain of deaths of Françoise Hardy, Anouk Aimée and even Donald Sutherland has made me think about the end of beauty, or at least a way of understanding it. The day Aimée died, I read a rather depressing tweet; it said that “the woman of Alfonso Sánchez’s dreams” had died. [en referencia al popular crítico de cine de la tele de los sesenta y setenta] and other people from the world of yesterday.” The canons of beauty change and there are tastes for everything, yes. I still remember arguing in the nineties with the historic journalist Miguel Ángel Bastenier because for him no one surpassed the beauty of the actress Gina Lollobrigida and to me she seemed rather vulgar and stale. The discussion could go on for the whole after-dinner conversation, Gloria Grahame or Françoise Dorléac (a weakness of my father) could make him doubt, but it was impossible: in his eyes, Lollobrigida was unbeatable.

Not long ago I met the writer Milena Busquets and we ended up talking about a hobby we share: beauty. It is a conversation that for both of us ends up in the same place: Alain Delon. We panicked at the thought of what will happen the day he dies. Delon is 88 years old and has been flirting with euthanasia for some time. “It will be like Michelangelo’s David dying,” Milena told me. “And in the face of that, what can be written?” I added. Of course rivers of ink will flow, his films with Visconti, Jean-Pierre Melville, Antonioni, René Clement, Godard or Joseph Losey deserve it. But inevitably it will also be remembered that over the years he became a bitter follower of Le Pen’s National Front. Nothing is free from his dark side, neither beauty.

The essay by American Katy Kelleher, The Terrible History of Beautiful Things. Essay on Desire and Consumption (Alpha Decay) delves into the increasingly conflicted relationship we have with precious objects. Kelleher looks at perfumes, jewellery and silks to show their ugliest and most decadent side. The text addresses our obsession with beautiful things and the problem of forgetting their true value. The author confesses that she began to think about the subject during a visit to the therapist. “What makes you get out of bed if you are so fed up with everything?” the professional asked her. She replied: “Beauty, I get up in the morning because I expect to see or touch something that is beautiful.”

It’s like Woody Allen’s famous monologue in Manhattan, the one where he lists the things that make life worth living: “Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony, Louis Armstrong’s recording of Potatohead Blues, Swedish films, Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Cézanne’s amazing apples and pears, Sam Wo’s house crabs…”

It’s a silly game, but it’s a game worth playing. Here’s my list for today: Marilyn Monroe, my dog ​​when he wakes me up with the joy of spending another day together, the ballad Warm Canto by Mal Waldron, the sunset on the plateau and the old mountain road in Tangier, world maps, Calder’s cell phones, any Christy Turlington photograph from the nineties, Jeff Bridges from the age of forty onwards and, of course, Alain Delon.

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