Eric Wayne on Self-Delusion

By whatever happenstance, I’ve finally run across another artist who is roughly on the same page as I am vis-a-vis the New York School.

Eric Wayne in his 10 Abstract Expressionists, and the Signature Styles that Killed Them has succinctly summarized a number of my own conclusions. I think that he’s part of a building consensus that will eventually sweep away all the old, and no longer useful, myths put in place through Greenberg/Duchamp in the 1940s. There are a few things I disagree with but he certainly has the basic facts spelled out for anyone interested in reading them. I find most of it indisputable. In fact, as I keep saying, the entirety of the art world is no more than an ideological and advertising construct that is as thoroughly disconnected from reality as the people who subscribe to it.

While a critic like Baudrillard refers to post-1950s art as a conspiracy, I find the word cult much more to the point. A conspiracy implies a group of conspirators with secret plans, motives and objectives. I don’t see any evidence of that kind of coherent structure. It’s simply the operation of late Capitalism, which is not a conspiracy. It’s an economic system.

Cult is defined as “a misplaced and excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.” The cult of art is misplaced admiration for things and the people who make those things. The artworks themselves become fetishized objects while those who make the fetish objects are worshipped as some kind of divinely inspired geniuses. The most self-deluded geniuses, like Matisse, Rothko, Kelly actually design and decorate their own chapels where believers can go to worship them. Come to Denver and visit the Clyfford Still chapel.

But of course, inside the delusional Artland, Clyff Still was a great painter. He was not a Manicheanist nut job. Is there anything to dispute in what Eric Wayne has written about Pollock and Rothko posturing as spiritual conduits?

Rothko and Pollock have grandiose spiritual claims attached to their art, by themselves or by others. Rothko said, “The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I panted them.” It’s indelicate, but I can’t help but wonder if there was a connection between the heroic claims made for their art, their self-limited range of artistic expression, and their deaths. Rothko committed suicide (he slits his wrists and overdosed on antidepressants), and Pollock lost his life to due a suicidal alcoholic recklessness (he drove his car into a tree). “Spiritual” and “suicidal” don’t really go together in my book, unless ‘spiritual’ signifies an existential crisis, I’d just wanna call it that if that is what it is.”

As far as I’m concerned, any artist that is popping various pharmaceutical anti-depressant concoctions or anyone who is a chronic fall down alcoholic or meth/coke addict is not on a spiritual quest. And the paintings made by artists on this particular path are not repositories of spiritual experiences. That seems obvious to me.

And why the need to see all these objects, performances, videos, etc. as spiritual or metaphysical anyway?  Would it be that otherwise we’re all floating around in a meaningless global shopping mall universe with nothing else to do but come up with things to keep ourselves amused and entertained as we lay waste to the world?

And that we’re still in the existential crisis that Rothko and Pollock  failed so miserably to address due to their pathetic delusions of grandeur that clearly mirror our own as we crush what is left of the natural world, along with all the other societies unlike our own in a delusional attempt to recreate the world in our own mad image?

OK. Cheer up. The next post is going to be on the latest story just breaking in the National Enquirer. The secret sex tapes casting light on certain unsavory relationships purported to have gone on between Muhammad Ali, his daughter and John Travolta. The daughter is the one purporting to have the secret sex tapes. Youtubers, you are on notice to keep your eyes peeled….

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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One Response to Eric Wayne on Self-Delusion

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    Thanks for linking to my article. Incidentally, you have a typo on this quote, ” and Pollock lost his life due to suicidal alcoholic recklessness”. I’ll have to read up on your take on the art world. It’s such a huge thing, including the life and work of unknown artists with their own perspectives, that no single person can understand or encapsulate it. My main rant in that article was about the restrictions of a signature style, though I did certainly touch on what could be spiritual pretensions. However, I do believe in chasing after the transcendent in art, as unpopular of a traditional view as that is. But by “transcendent” I just mean pushing at the edges of consensual reality and expanding some edge of the perceptual horizon. There is sometimes a kind of attempt to break through, which, to use an analogy that makes this more accessible, is like a musician trying to come up with a new melody or combination of notes that hasn’t been heard or conceived before, and yet which is compelling. I do think the Abstract Expressionists, some of them, were attempting to do that, but agree with you that a “chapel” for ones art is going a bit far. Alex Grey is making one for HIS psychedelic/spiritual/Buddhist art.Not sure how I feel about that, but it doesn’t bug me in the same was as a chapel for Abstract Expressionist paintings, or late Matisse, which I don’t get (especially the cut out stuff).

    I’m pretty cynical about the art world, too, at least the blue chip one, and the narrative of art that matters which is based on a linear progression of art history. Art seems to be defined largely by the buyers of art, and their tastes reflect their status and lifestyles, which are alien to most of the rest of us, and certainly to me.


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