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What is beauty?

There are objectivists who think it is in nature. And relativists who think it is in perception. But the reality of beauty is better than both, and more complex

By Charles Jencks   66

Beauty is back. Architects are designing harmonious skyscrapers for London, artists are producing works on the subject, and evolutionary psychologists are presenting evidence that canons of beauty are hard-wired into the nervous system. The latter studies challenge established taste. According to the facial canon of pulchritude, Audrey Hepburn is more beautiful than Sharon Stone. Marilyn Monroe may be the sexiest woman of the last 100 years, if polls in America are to be believed, but her physiognomic proportions are not up to those of Catherine Deneuve or Grace Kelly. Marilyn’s chin is too big, cheekbones too low, and her eyes…

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