The Ideal Beauty of the Human Body in Art
A Short Introduction to European History of
(This lecture was written as a welcome speech to an
international congress of aesthetic plastic surgeons in southern Germany 1999.)
The idea of the perfect human body is a result
of culture: religious functions, economy, advertisement and other
The definition of beauty is not an immanent and objective quality of
things, since every age, place and social class formed its own ideal
of it, ideal beauty is corresponding with the aesthetic feeling of people
of a respecting period.
"History of art" as a relatively young science earlier was
called subjectively "aesthetics". Art was supposed to evoke
religious contemplation and/or sensuos and mental delight., as the ancient
poet Heliodor postulated.
However according to the great historian Ranke the task of an
historian is plainly "to tell as it really was..", and not
his own opinions or feelings.
Actually nowadays we are not any more allowed to call
something objectively beautiful, only "to me it is
beautiful" or "I like it", especially since art
expresse the disorder and confusion of mankind.
It seem, that there is no more ideals and "anything
Now I am delighted to go on a short trip through our history of
culture with this exquisite audience!