Sublime = Beauty + Fear

David Altmejd's 2008 work The Holes ("a gargantuan werewolf lying lifeless in a crystal garden") is at MOCCA until April 4. 

Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker's chief art critic, visited Toronto last week to give a talk on MOCCA's Misled by Nature exhibition. He dismissed the curatorial linkage of Altmejd's work to the Baroque and rambled enjoyably about rejecting the notion of beauty as an attribute. Beauty is a democratic experience available to everyone: a moonrise over the Walmart parking lot is beautiful, he said, and everyone can appreciate such a sight. By contrast, not everyone can appreciate the beauty in art, which requires knowledge, study, and by association, refinement. 

Kant defined the sublime, Schjeldahl said, as beauty plus an emotion. Beauty + fear = sublime. Beauty + awe = sublime.  

Under this definition, Altmejd's work is spectacularly sublime.

Misled by Nature continues at MOCCA to April 6.