Had God decreed a history without free will in the Garden of Eden, where no Fall occurred and sin never entered the world, God would still have been glorious and worthy of endless praise. That is the science. But what makes God, specifically Christ, beautiful to us is enhanced by the revelation of mercy and grace in our lives. That is the art.
It has become a repeated theme among Christians, particularly those bent toward philosophical constructs, that beauty is not subjective, but objective. The reasoning behind this is that God is the supreme object of beauty, as He is also the supremacy of being, love, grace, justice, righteousness, and all other virtues. So if God is the ultimate origin and manifestation of beauty, then levels of beauty can be defined by their adherence to or parallel to God Himself. Makes sense, right?
This provides a very useful argument against the unrelenting march of post-modern thought into realms of art. A piece of obscene “art” can be denied as beautiful because it runs contrary to God and His design in creation. A stark example would be the work of Andres Serrano, where he photographed a crucifix submerged in urine. This cannot be defined as “beautiful” because it is defying the God who is the definition of beauty.
To be clear, there are certainly objective elements to beauty, like symmetry. The ability to accurately represent God’s creation in an art form is truly the science behind the art. Yet if we only define the beauty of an artwork in terms of symmetry, order, proportions, and harmony, then it could be posited that Piet Mondrian’s paintings (the ones with black lines and squares of white and primary colors) exceed the beauty of Michelangelo’s David. No one in their right mind would actually claim that, though.
The whole discussion of beauty in art was much simpler before technology. A painter or sculptor was largely valued by their ability to recreate what occurred in nature. Picasso’s work would have stood no chance in the 1600’s amid portrait painters (though Picasso actually had the skill to paint realistically).