Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiments and taste1.
Ancient doctrines that guided the production and interpretation of prehistoric art are mostly unknown. Ancient art was based on the nine great ancient civilizations that included Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, China, Rome, India, Celtics, and Maya1. Each of these civilizations developed a unique style in its art.
Greece had the most influence on the development of aesthetics in the West. This period saw an increased interest in the human physical form. Body hair was rarely depicted in art that addressed physical beauty. In contrast to this, the grotesque genre showed hair2.
The Apollo Belvedere was viewed as the epitomy of aesthetic perfection for centuries upon its rediscovery in Italy in 14893.
Greek philosophers originally felt that aesthetically appealing objects were beautiful in and of themselves. However, Plato believed that for us to have a perception of beauty there must be a transcendent form for beauty. All objects that are deemed beautiful must partake in that form of beauty. He felt that beauty incorporated proportion, harmony, and unity4.
From the late 17th to the early 20th century Western aesthetics underwent a revolution into what is called modernism. German and British thinkers emphasized beauty as the key component of art and of the aesthetic experience.
1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Aesthetic. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesthetic. [Last Accessed 24/2/14].
2. Michael Kelly, (1998). Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. 1st ed. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Grotesque entry, p. 338-341.
3. Unknown (Ongoing). Apollo Belvedere. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Belvedere. [Last Accessed 24/2/14].
4. Plato (commentary by Albert Rijksbaron), (2007). Ion Or: On the Iliad. 1st ed. : Brill.