Wednesday, March 5, 2014


There often is the misconception that elegance is synonym with pompous, lofty, majestic. It is often a common belief that elegance is a shiny armour which provides appearance, and the concept of appearing becomes then akin to the concept of being.
Elegance is found in a complicated language, many think, or in the display of lordly manners. They believe that a shiny coating will offset their worn out underwear.

It isn't so.

If we look at the qualities that certain works and characters, which are considered epitomes of elegance, posses, we won't find any of the attributes listed above.

It is the bodies of the Riace Bronzes, just like the plain forms of the Kuroi and the natural balance of Michelangelo's David, displaying elegance and grace.
It is found in Wordsworth's simple verses, Socrates' dry rhetoric, and Bruce Lee's direct swiftness in motion.
Circles are elegant, not heptagons.
Proust's prose is elegant, or Poe's.
Black and white is elegant, while colour can be elegant.

Elegance always coincides with simplicity and purity; a gait is graceful when it is made of few and simple movements, and a word will strike when it's direct and raw. Elegance is the quintessence of anything complicated in origin, it is purity of forms and concepts, simplicity and humbleness.
Elegance is like a sense, it is intrinsic and is improved by removing the unessential.

Do you agree?
Who or what is elegant to you? 



  1. Anything that disguises effort in apparent simplicity

  2. it seems strange to present “elegance” in the negative light first — but mainly I guess I do not ever think of elegance negatively. Perhaps context would be helpful… (seems the post is riffing on some other things which happened in your life — a conversation perhaps — and without the context it becomes difficult to understand where it is coming from) …

  3. Is wabi sabi elegant? I think so. The grace of age, simplicity, experience, integrity.

  4. Good answer Mike!

    See-ming Lee, my friend,
    I'm afraid you are mistaken. I have never presented elegance in a negative light. All the opposite, in fact.
    I gave my two cents on what to me is elegance and what to me is only mistaken for elegance.
    It is not really the result of a conversation, but of thirty years of conversations with friends, arts aficionados, and others who have no clue what art is.
    The article simply meant to give a general, thus incomplete, definition of elegance according to my personal standards and perspective.
    Maybe it's clear now where it's all coming from?

    Dear Christie,
    Wabi Sabi is not elegant: it is the epitome of elegance (or one of the many)! I totally agree with you!