The search for wisdom, which is philosophy, is born from metaphysics

Livre Beauté de la métaphysique par Jean Grondin

The book is in French, but I hope that its main ideas, which I will humbly try to report in English in this summary, will provide some food for thought for us all.

It is true that the word “metaphysics” is frightening. But after having carefully read The Beauty of Metaphysics by philosopher Jean Grondin, I could humbly argue that visual artists are by nature metaphysicians. The author defines metaphysics as the “vigilant effort of human thought [to] understand the whole of reality and its reasons”? (p. 21). “There is metaphysics in everything we do,” he goes on. That said, in front of the work of art in progress, does the artist become a metaphysician when he makes a sustained effort of reflection (conscious or unconscious) to compose his reality on canvas, while relying on shape, color, and reason?

Grondin breaks down the mysterious meaning of the word, and I believe that this is the great quality of the book. There is an “unconscious” metaphysics […] a way that determines our actions and the way we approach things”, as there is a “conscious” one […] that is developed for its own sake and that becomes its own. Since the advent of History, there has always been metaphysics: the Greek, the medieval, the rational, the modern. Each of these metaphysics answers to the other. The metaphysics of Plotinus responds to that of the Stoics, as that of Spinoza responds to that of Descartes, etc. (p. 80). Metaphysics is a deep reflection on things.

I return to visual art, especially to the matter of the intelligible aspect of painting: doesn’t Monet’s thought meet that of Turner, Picasso’s to Cézanne? Doesn’t Monet’s thought respond to Turner’s, Picasso’s to Cézanne’s? Shouldn’t we feed our own work of art from a greater one, which has withstood the test of time? Would metaphysics be evolutive? Would my current work necessarily prevail over the one of yesteryear?

As an archaeologist, Jean Grondin is not afraid to passionately excavate his beloved metaphysics. He identifies three main pillars (ontological, theological, and anthropological) in order to uncover beauty, which is its foundation (p. 45). I believe that this chapter must be carefully read, for it can indicate possible avenues towards the creation of contemporary art, which sometimes lacks a bit of glow, of “resplendent” (in Greek, ekphnestaton, let’s remember the word). Harmony, measure, goodness, finality, intelligence, and meaning (sens) are the roots that wrap the stylobate of Beauty, just as the ivy runs over the ruins of ancient Greek temples. Metaphysics is only beauty.

Grondin goes on to say that “evil” is the opposite of beauty (p. 93). In this respect, he comes close to François Cheng (Five Meditations on Beauty). “What can metaphysics say about it?” (p. 93). Evil is, according to him, an “antimetaphysics” interrupting all reflection. We see this clearly in the news media. Jean Grondin puts forward four or five ideas related to this question of “evil”: recognition of evil, absence of ekphnestaton, disorder, protest, and another idea to which I fully subscribe: “Human beings moan too much” (pp. 102–103); is continuously complaining the only position one can take facing this precious life given to us. Grondin prefers to take action either on a small or large level, which improves our lives, rather than listening to “those who moan [with full bellies] about [their] desolation”. I am thinking here of the “trolls” of social networks, who only contribute to eliminating beauty in all its forms.

I could go on with Grondin’s ideas on “hermeneutics”, another scary word, which simply means “the art of understanding”. But this post is already too long. I must conclude in writing that Grondin often refers to his mentor, the philosopher G. Gadamer, who says (in my much simpler words) that metaphysics is like the search for the experience of truth within itself. Finally, would the metaphysical experience not be the result of lived and changing experiences caused by the search for meaning, of all the elements that make up this moment of confrontation with oneself, facing our art in Italy or Provence?



  1. Christine

    Jai lu. Compris. Tres bonne interpretation. Thanks

  2. tamia moe

    Very evocative post. Very simply, we are the sum of our parts. When I paint quickly, I often wonder where the process comes from. How did I know to do that? Why did I do that? I don’t think of my work as being metaphysical, like the surrealists, or Beverly Crawford, or even Janet’s.
    It is all about the difference between substance and attribute?
    I have read your post several times, and will read it again. Much to consider………..

  3. Beth Shepherd

    Great post, Yves. For me I find many media more “metaphysical” than painting. For example, I contemplated Godamer’s horizon of understanding while working in video, and I find the process of printmaking meditative and ideally suited to contemplating first principles.

  4. Kim Wilkie

    Wonderful post – I agree with all your written statements above especially “metaphysics is like the search for the experience of truth within itself.” but I do think it is the looking for that truth within. Though it is the sum, I have arrived at thus far in my expression of art in hopes that my expression is interpreted at the least subconsciously to everyone who views my art.

  5. Georgia

    Lots to think about….Thanks Yves, great article, have to read it again….

  6. Denise Lombard

    Thank you Yves, simply explained about a difficult subject and given me a lot to ponder on…. Denise


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Who are we?

We all make art! It is part of culture. It is deeply rooted in human nature as a way of communicating with others. We all need to tell our stories because it is stories that link us all. We are all one, one creative mind! Though, all unique and equipped with unique ways of expressing ourselves. We live in constant search of that unique liberating voice. At Walk the Arts we aim to facilitate our art makers to explore new territories. Our painting classes and art history trips on three continents are meant to be rounded art experiences among small groups of like-minded adults. We offer an environment that fosters creativity. As we always say, art as religion is just a matter of faith. This blog is about living fully the experience of art, about finding our single artistic path, about the joy of art-making. We believe that making art accessible to all will lead to a betterment of our society.


Contact Us! North America and Europe

Twitter Updates

“Re-situating” myself


Alone in your studio, guided by your intuition, stop, sit down, with your notes in hand, your mindmap on the wall, to gather a feel for the next avenues. I suggest you take a few days to write down a first draft of an artistic statement. It will put some order into your thoughts so as to better clarify them. Be warned, however, that this will not be your final statement, as others will follow.
Set parameters: no more than 500 words, write a seductive title, an incipit (very first line) that hooks; write in the active form. Watch out for repetition and tautology! The more honest you are with yourself, the easier it will be to write this text. The more you hesitate to let go with your art, the harder it will be.

Gray a Philosophical “Color”


“Over the past 40 years, I’ve seen students in the process of transitioning from saturated colors to grayed ones, a sign of serious questioning about painting. As a beginner, we shy away from mixing colors, and the more we progress in our creative practice, the more daring we become. That’s life! When we’re children, we only see saturated colors, and as we get older, gray takes over. Adults realize that gray is everywhere. “The color of truth is gray” wrote the French author André Gide.”

We can face Artificial Intelligence


How many times were we tempted to fall into the trap of mainly teaching painting techniques now all available on the Net? Just type “How to paint an Italian Landscape” and … two million plus videos jump onto your computer screen.

A First History of NFTs


“I think the reason […] I’ve chosen the career that I have is because artists are always the seers or the truth tellers. They show us the way forward”. Nora Burnett Abrams, The Story of NFTs, Artists, Technology, and Democracy. P. 53

The World of NFTs!


I had to know if NFT art is and will be a fad or not. In Canada’s national capital (Ottawa) art world, I kept hearing that it is not going to last, it’s all smoke and mirrors, ya-ya-ya, etc. So, I entered the Palazzo Strozzi with an open mind. I saw the works, I read everything on the walls, and I came out of the exhibition thinking “It is here to stay.” From that moment, on la Via de’ Tomabuoni, I felt compelled as an art historian and art educator to embrace this new reality. Didn’t we do it for Pop Art and Conceptual Art in the late ’50s and ‘60s?

My painting workshop in Tuscany


Already a month since my return from a fun-filled art-learning experience in Tuscany, Italy! The workshop went far beyond what I even imagined, or hoped it would be. The roughly eight hours per day for most days of art instruction gave me a new perspective on my art: where I was and where I wanted to be, the past and the future. But, together as a group, we were living in the present.

“Perseverance” is the key to all successful artists


Perseverance is the key to all successful artists.

I always ask my painting students to memorize … “Until then, we will not rest or falter. Hand in hand with others thirsting for a better life, no matter how long it takes, regardless of support or persecution, we will joyfully respond to a savage need for liberation”.

Studio Italia, a painting vacation with…


If our art workshops focused mostly on painting techniques, then why traveling to Italy and spending money when you could stay at home and learn everything you need through the Internet for free?

Art and Neurosciences


When a subject becomes familiar, the brain activity shuts down like when viewing a lovely chickadee painting…

Can we talk about the neuroscience of art? This is the question that French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux addresses in his beautiful book The Beauty in the Brain or La Beauté dans le Cerveau (Odile Jacob, 2016). Prof. Changeux describes how the human brain behaves when making or contemplating a work of art. To make a long story short, he argues that the neural bases of aesthetic pleasure are the product of the link between cognitive and emotional brain functions, in other words, the harmony between reason and emotion. Moreover, he gives some tips on how artists can maximize the impact of their works on their audience.

Evolving in art is just a matter of faith; only believe!


We refrain from teaching painting techniques easily found on the Net. We prefer taking the necessary time (36 hours) to fully involve the participant in reflecting on her or his art — including all levels, all media […]
Rest assured that having attended one of our online classes, you will be more confident in taming the landscape in your own way while on a plein-air painting workshop.

Let Go! The Artist’s Way of Cooking

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/walkth14/public_html/wp-content/plugins/rating-widget/rating-widget.php on line 3880

Ten years ago, here in Tuscany, we decided to write a recipe book but with so many good cookbooks in the market, we needed to propose a new idea. We had to find a modus operandi close to who we are and what we do as visual artists. The answer was in front of us and painting gave it to us: art and color!

Travelling with meaning : a painting workshop in Italy


More and more travellers from the developed world are looking for meaningful travels. We are aiming for journeys that allow us to learn something new, to deepen our culture, to enhance our lives. Purpose, inspiration and self-discovery are now vital elements in our traveling choices. Probably, this is why our quality painting workshops offered since 1997, have become more and more popular.

Privacy Policy