Pulchrism is an artistic philosophy and movement conceptualized by American artist Jesse Waugh that champions beauty as the purpose of art, wherein beauty takes precedence over style and format. Waugh's book Pulchrism: Championing Beauty as the Purpose of Art describes the philosophy and practice of Pulchrism.
The term was originally an obscure one that appeared in The Athenaeum and the journals of John Barton. Waugh conceived of it in 2012, and shortly thereafter discovered that it had been previously mentioned in the aforementioned texts.
One who follows Pulchrism is termed a Pulchrist.
The Pulchrist Manifesto
Waugh's Pulchrist Manifesto states:
- The term Pulchrism was coined by Jesse Waugh from a combination of Latin Pulchri- (beauty) + ism.
- In Pulchrism, Beauty is given precedence over style and format.
- Pulchrism is not dependent on either figurativeness or abstraction in art. It allows for abstraction if for the conduction of Beauty - this principle it shares with zen.
- A fundamental precept of Pulchrism is that Beauty transcends both relativity and absolutism.
- Pulchrism encompasses the Cult of Beauty, while adhering to its stipulations.
- One of Pulchrism's foremost tenets is that ugliness must be categorized as separate from Beauty. Ugliness called Beauty is anathema to Pulchrism. According to the Pulchrist doctrine, relativist confounding of Beauty with ugliness destroys beauty. Art elitists argue that only philistines cannot see Beauty in ugliness. This stance is generally borne of or inspired by ferment in individual souls or in the cultural zeitgeist; or it is deliberately employed by provocateurs seeking the demise of society. While excess may bring one to moments of lucidity, it also distorts perception. Distortion is ugly.
- Pulchrism is not traditional or modern. It is timeless. Pulchrism advocates that Beauty is not relative, but recognizable.
- Pulchrism is absolutist in that it holds that Beauty is not solely in the eye of the beholder, but usually contains fundamental traits such as satisfying proportion, exalted color, dynamic chiaroscuro, or preternatural inspiration. Pulchrism can include the precepts of computational aesthetics wherever required.
- Pulchrism takes the stance that Beauty can be identified, recognized, and agreed upon.
- Pulchrism places precedence on Beauty above all other qualities in art.