Radical esthetic can mean a reduced one, which concentrates on the essential.
The medieval art of the Cistercians, which resigns from everything which could distract the senses from God, is in this spirit radical: no music except the choral singing of the monks, no colors in the glass windows, no saint figures and no decor except Maria, who is a totally receiving one, as the monk should be: receiving one of the pure godly light.
As purgatory for the senses and for a restricted time surely very helpful, in order to find the bottom line again.
But is here not an ideal idea of man presumed and aimed for, which has nothing to do with our experienced reality?
Encourages radical esthetic understood in this way and the correspondent life style not virtually radical views and attitudes?
Simplicity and sparingness in the style of the art of the Cistercians inspired the world renown architect Le Corbusier at the building of the Dominican abbey La Tourette near Lyon.
Ascetic, puristic spirit became form in concrete and glass between 1956 and 1960.
Clarity and beauty are supposed to show for their own sake.
Independent of the life, as it seems.
It is told succinctly, the convent moved out already after barely ten years because of shortage of young people.
It is allowed to ask: Is radical, absolute esthetic, which does not take seriously the human and its needs, in the end reckless and inhuman?
Means radical esthetic, to show the reality — as appearing to the eye — without frills and unvarnished?
Domenico Ghirlandaio paints around 1940 in his portrait of an old man his nose with his pathological proliferations so realistically, that our eye, closely guided by advertisement esthetic, would like to look away.
Some years later portrays Albrecht Dürer his mother in similar radicality: the prominent cheekbones and the out-stepping eyes let the viewer participate in the process of aging of a human, and confront him with finity and death.
Max Beckmann and Otto Dix felt similarly at the beginning of the modernity and worked up the awe and brutality of the First World War artistically.
Or is it allowed to understand radical esthetic — comparable to the absolute music — as unconditional abstinence of all realistic, and sensual perceptible?
Would be the abstract art this silver bullet of esthetic, which only shows spiritual structures and forms?
Beauty in its purest form, which receives its inspiration — as the roots — out of the to us invisible realm, out of the concealed?
Thus, no by fear and pain distorted face of a tortured person by the Chilean artist Fernanda Piamoati, but — as in St. Peter in Cologne — only the sentence in block letters “Ich habe Angst” [T.N.: German for “I am in fear”] by Rosemarie Trockel in the sanctuary, which deeply touched the service visitors and confronted them with their own fears?
Both we would have to learn to bear.
Radical is a very enigmatic adjective, particularly it is in many considerations negatively connoted.
Beauty and art refer to the artist as creator, that is: the human.
He is the root.
Radical esthetic would be the artistic design of an inner imagination of something, which he realizes with consequence, without forgetting his creatureliness, his desires and the own existential breaks.
On the basis of a fictive grave dictum for Ignatius of Loyola one could formulate: To be fascinated by the capaciousness and magnitude of beauty but still bringing into play the border experience and brokenness of all finite.
This esthetic is neither reduced nor minimalistic, neither pure nor absolute.
A radical human esthetic that would be.
Original. Holter SJ, Werner. ( 2014 ) ”Radikale Ästhetik”, Jesuiten, vol. 2014, no. 3, ( Seite 20 im PDF, Seite 18 gedruckt ).