We get it: Love is the stuff of pop song cliché. It’s a many-splendored thing, an open door, a verb. Done incorrectly, romance becomes schmaltzy, trite, and tasteless. Think Nicholas Sparks movie posters of attractive, heterosexual, white couples centimeters away from locking lips. Or kitschy paperback bodice-rippers on gas station stands. Or irritating pop songs that, having overstayed their welcome on the radio, become the anodyne white noise of grocery store aisles and department store clearance racks. In a pop culture oversaturated by romance, it wouldn’t be irrational to detest art about love. After all, romance has been done so many times, it ought to have expired with the hundredth Shakespearean sonnet.
And yet… Pop songs about love still dominate the airwaves. Romance novels account for one-fifth of adult fiction sales. And though the golden era of romantic comedies is arguably behind us, a new one surfaces every now and then that restores our faith in the genre. Or, in the words of impassioned Internet thinkpieces, even portends a renewal of the genre at large. But why? Why aren’t we tired of it all? Why are we still captivated by a centuries’ old artistic mode that ought to be totally banal and uninteresting by now?
Because art about love — when done right — is as fresh and exciting as love itself.
Earlier this summer, that was precisely what we wanted to hear about. We wanted to know the art that shaped the ways you thought about love, whether articulated in the verse of 18th century Hindu poetry or splashed across the pages of young adult novels. We wanted the artistic loves that kept you reading or listening — or the on-screen unrequited love that kept you guessing. And lucky for us, that’s exactly what we got. Thanks to our thoughtful contributors, we heard about the philosophies of love from artists ranging from Amy Winehouse, to Caravaggio, to the Arctic Monkeys, and more.
Thank you to the Crimson Arts board for bringing this supplement to fruition, particularly our wonderful execs, who devoted the last few days of summer to editing these pieces.
We hope you enjoy reading!
Kaylee S. Kim ’20 and Caroline A. Tsai ’20