Here’s another article in Hyperallergic which runs through what should by now be familiar to anybody who has been regularly reading my blog regarding the story of how the CIA/MoMA/USgov/Greenberg put over Abstract Expressionism. The article is How Cold War Politics Sabotaged Norman Rockwell by Rob Colvin. It’s a misleading title as Cold War Politics didn’t sabotage Norman Rockwell at all since he was part of mainstream propaganda at the Saturday Evening Post portraying America as an idyllic society, populated entirely by New England white people.
This isn’t a criticism. I like Rockwell’s paintings and I envy his being able to paint in a world devoid of the political correctness that pollutes art to the point art hardly exists. If it exists at all, it’s certainly on the far margins. And what kind of art could possibly exist when any artist wanting to put their work up for consideration by the Contemporary Art community must automatically swear allegiance to NeoLiberal Neo Democrat values? Contemporary Art is now just as false as anything being produced under Stalin and in most instances more so. Look at the Repin and compare it to the latest bilge exhibited by Jeffrey Deitch or the Whitney Biennial.
I’d far rather look at at an Ilya Repin artwork painted in 19th century Russia than the moronic bilge spewed out in the politically correct circus that Rowan Williams writing in the New Statesmen accurately calls “the nihilistic void at the center of modern cultural life.”
I bring up Repin because the ignoramus Clement Greenberg identified his paintings as the kind of kitsch art that is made in totalitarian societies. And so works like those shown above needed to replaced by real high art such as the drawing below that he and Harold Rosenberg personally selected out from all the tiresome crap being shown in New York at the time, such as George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Max Ernst and so on and so forth. Communist types that they were. America needed a pure art devoid of foreign influences and politics. And so we got this:
So who can look at the de Koonings below interspersed with the Ilya Repins and tell me why de Kooning is high art and Ilya Repin is kitsch junk? I’d really be interested in their explanation.
I mean other than the fact that American Art post WWII is invariably better than anything made by European artists or Russian Artists or (God forbid) Chinese artists. We live by a simple rule. A simple rule for a simple people: If MoMA says it’s so, then it’s so. What else does one need to know? What else does one need to look at? The Europeans seemingly have understood who’s boss, at least as far as the work that has to follow the Post-Modernist fashion pioneered here in the USA, or the conceptual fashion, or the minimal fashion or performances. Happenings! Art Happenings! Aren’t they special!?! Go to the museum and have your art happening experience. For less than 20 dollars.
Americans are the best businessmen who ever lived. You can take that to the bank. But as far as art goes? Sorry. Put a Basquiat up beside a Dürer. Any questions who’s better at art? But let’s just pretend and jump up and down in our art costumes to Bobby Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” now that the Swedes have put our greatest writer up on top where he should be. Thanks, Sweden. Stupid second-raters that you are.
We can put it over on anyone. As de Kooning remarked about Castelli : “That son of a bitch” could sell bronze beer cans. And Jasper Johns made it so… Hah hah.. Joke on de Kooning. Of course the de Kooning joke had to be put over first just as did the Duchamp joke. Rosenberg had sold the rather limited (in comparison to the European artists of the time like Grosz, Beckmann, Ernst, Picasso) de Kooning as the greatest artist of the 20th century, so why not Castelli shoehorning Johns into the position with Bronze Beer Cans? In America, anything goes. The more outrageous the better. Bring on Andy and his stable of exotica complete with blow jobs and whips. Nobody did it better than Andy. Ah… those were the days. Now all we can do is reminisce nostalgically.
So here are some Repins interspersed with de Kooning women. Maybe I can get somebody to write in explaining to me, without using the hyped up Rosenberg/Greenberg bullshit and price tags, why exactly de Kooning is a great genius and Repin is hollow kitsch.
Greenberg was no more than a cold war political operative patently and obviously trashing Soviet art. He had the backing of both the CIA and MoMA and he politicized art in a way that thoroughly destroyed it. Anybody that doesn’t understand that is living in a world of delusion. The same delusion that would have one believing that graffiti scribbles, be they by de Kooning or Jean Michel Basquiat are enormous achievements, while Ilya Repin and the world he belonged to are tiresome kitsch.
De Kooning and Basquiat are art for generations of TV watchers… who can sit on their asses and dream they’re making “action art”…OH. ! How exciting it all is! Repin belonged to a real culture, a contemporary of Tolstoy. A great artist. One of the greatest in history.
We give you Basquiat, Haring, Rothenberg, Schabel, Dan Flavin and his lights, Turrell and Smithson digging up the desert pomposity. Andy with his exotic and cheap cabaret films. Las Vegas Art. Yet no artists (outside Eric Wayne by my counting) have any complaints or criticisms at all … Too gutless to even say a word. What a pathetic mess we are. And we’ve infected the entire world. Will we blow it up as well if we don’t get our way? We’re certainly going to allow global warming to take us out. No doubt about that at all.
I agree with Eliot. I think we’ll go out with a whimper and not a bang… Whimpering and simpering artists in their little outfits bought from Gucci or Smoochie or wherever they buy them. As Vonnegut noted back in Cat’s Cradle days, and I paraphrase, “There’s a shitstorm coming.” You gotta that right, Kurt. And I’m looking at it.