In the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche states that life is justified through artistic creativity. He analyses the ancient Greek tragedies to further elaborate on his point. My question is: would his points also be applicable to the visual arts?

In my opinion, they can. For example, Picasso's Guernica depicts the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individual (the Dionysian) with a carefully selected color palette, geometrical composition, and perspective (Apollonian elements). Thus, it can be concluded that this painting is a product of both Dionysian and Apollonian intervention.


However, this theory does not apply to all paintings. For example, The Birth of Venus only has Apollonian elements. The painting is beautifully composed and does not portray anything painful or fearsome (Dionysian elements). It may be argued that the nudity of Aphrodite has sexual connotations, but I argue that Botticelli's goal was to portray her idyllic beauty, rather than have her be seen as a sexual object.

Birth of Venus

On a similar note, many artists lead happy, fulfilling lives and paint beautiful objects. Another question arises -- would Nietzsche consider this kind of art superficial? In essence, since it only contains Apollonian elements, does this kind of art not justify and reaffirm life?

  • Maybe consider factoring this into two questions, the one is the first paragraph and the one in the last? —Note there’s nothing wrong with answering your own question; and the site tends to work best when we’re really literal about modeling each problem as a Question (and possibly linking between them when needed for context) – Joseph Weissman Mar 27 '18 at 21:22
  • Welcome to Philosophy, by the way! – Joseph Weissman Mar 27 '18 at 21:23
  • The wind is a Dionysian element. It is a form of chaos. The flying flowers are being destroyed. The distinction is not always emotional lightness vs darkness, it can also be order vs freedom. Drunkenness, the major metaphor for Dionysis, is often a happy occasion of liberation through lowered inhibitions, before it goes south. And liberation is generally tinged with uncertainty, and therefore fear. A really deep version of your premise is Camille Paglia's "Sexual Personae". An older, less annoying, application of the same principles is Frazer's "Golden Bough". – jobermark Mar 27 '18 at 23:06

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