The New York Times has printed a second piece on the underlying financial fraud that props up the current art market. And this following an auction that just broke all sales records. Typically, as bubbles enter their final phase before imploding increasingly frenetic sales and profits occur, as witnessed in the housing collapse.
Of course, the American Art world has been an enormous fraud for decades, in terms of hyping and promoting work that is so vastly inferior to the art that preceded it in the earlier part of the 20th century that only enormous sums of money could prop it up in the first place.
The art critical apparatus (which would be more accurately termed the art sales apparatus) of newspaper critics, art magazine critics, and big bloviators like Robert Hughes at Time and his Shock of the New have managed to glorify art that if placed next to art of the past reveals itself as either a tawdry imitation of that art or empty novelty (performance, video, overblown photographs, etc).
One of the slickest maneuvers of the American Art machine was to declare all art of the past dead. Take Donald Judd & Company as examples spokesmen for that strategy. Therefore, art that subscribed to any values pertaining to European (dead white male) art whatsoever was automatically viewed as retrograde and hence culturally bankrupt.
Whatever the case, it’s perfectly clear that since that turning point in “art history” all we’ve seen promoted at galleries or museums as art is work that is NEW, by and large thoroughly disconnected from the past European tradition other than as parody. Even an artist like Odd Nerdrum, who intentionally mimics the “style” of Old Master painting accurately announces his work as kitsch. However, Nerdrum’s clear mastery of figurative art and painting earns him a place as a minor figure due to his conservatism, a quality that is invariably view pejoratively. Whereas a ham-handed painter like Eric Fischl , whose body of work is little more than trite pseudo-social realism mixed with kitsch eroticism elaborated by an artist trying to learn how to paint the figure on the job. His early work is pathetic by any standard of painting existing prior to post-Modernism.
Painting in its Postmodern phase naturally elevates trite and amateurish painting over more accomplished work. This is easily discerned by a comparison of typical works by Fischl and Nerdrum.
Eric Fischl (self portrait?)
The answer is quite simple to why Fischl is placed at the center of Postmodernist art while Nerdrum exists peripherally. Fischl along with the other 80s art stars, was gathered up overnight and backed by Wall Street Finance. And the reasons this was done have nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of artistic merit or achievement, of which there was precious little. Living in NYC at the time I can bear witness to this first-hand.
Postmodern art, if looked at with anything remotely approaching objectivity can be seen for what it is, a playacting parody of earlier Modernist movements.
Compare a Chaim Soutine to a Susan Rothenberg, as another example, and one is looking at a kind of kindergartener’s notion of expressionist painting next to work of sublime accomplishment. And, keep in mind that it was the bloated prose of Robert Hughes among others, that established Rothenberg’s superstar status. Meanwhile a consortium of collectors snapped up the half-assed work and began the long inflation of prices that are routinely maintained by the same Fine Art Swindle ballooning into the stratosphere last week.
Rothenberg’s work was absolutely indistinguishable from miles and miles of wasted canvas found in any American art school where students without the slightest understanding of drawing, form, composition, color or paint itself floundered around haphazardly while encouraged to come up with whatever gibberish they thought would put their work over at a faculty critique.
Rothenberg’s paintings give new meaning to the word pathetic. And they characterize the completely vacuous art criticism and empty artistic posturing that the hordes of art world wannabes shamelessly pandered to. This period of artistic imposture virtually destroyed artistic practice of any quality or seriousness. And the lack of any effort by anyone in a position of power within the artistic community (not to mention the artists groveling around seeking credibility within that world) to attack this brand of patent charlatanism is the primary reason art itself is on the brink of extinction as a viable form of human communication.