Two pieces that should be read back to back. First the Kimball piece, where the pomposity and irrelevance of today’s “avant-garde” is shredded in a quite funny comic satire (unless you’re a big fan of contempo avant-garde that is). I should say that I don’t subscribe at all to Kimball’s New Criterion conservative/reactionary notions of what art is.
The piece below follows on from Kimball’s speculation (made in 2007), which is obviously correct that “sooner or later, even the Leon Botsteins and Marieluise Hessels of the world will realize that the character in Bruce Nauman’s “Good Boy, Bad Boy” was right: “this is boring.”
As we can see in this 2012 Daily Mail piece on Damien Hirst’s collapsing prices which we can assume have only gotten worse, as what has Damien Hirst done since 2012 of any note? Not following the art world, I have no idea but perhaps somebody knowledgeable can enlighten me.
Christies sales of Postwar and Contempo Art are down 41% from the same period in 2015, which could be considered a bit strange as the stock market is booming. So clearly the investments are going to other places than into blue chip contempo/postwar.
Of course, people mired in this delusional belief system that Modern Art is all triumphant over the entirety of the past history of art, I imagine will be totally baffled by all of this. Even with all the forgeries, the CIA funding of Ab Ex and the incredibly financial manipulations, auction rigging, and so on, their belief in the profound achievements of Urinal Man and Bronze Beer Can man are unaffected. Art exists in a place totally disconnected from known reality. A pure place where pure spirits make pure art…
Right on! Power to the People! Let them vote on the best art, just like they’ve given us the best President and Congress and right down the line to the best Art, Literature and Music never ever before seen in all it’s awesome proliferation covering the earth in peace, love, and beauty along with lots of sex and violence!
I hate to say it but I find myself completely put off by both camps. The Beauty School of ennobled art as Kimball describes art as “mastery of craft in order to make objects to gratify and ennoble those who see them.” This has to be one of the most moronic definitions of art I’ve ever seen written. Yes, the Renaissance, Baroque, Belle Epoque were all about making objects to gratify and ennoble those who saw them. I can hear Michelangelo and Leonardo conversing now…. Won’t the people feel gratified and ennobled once they view our latest fresco works.
On the other hand I find Kimball’s disgust and disdain for the intellectual vacuity and sex thrill crud that the “Wrestling” artists represent.
How I’ve found myself being the lone dissenter in an art world that I view as having gone totally insane as well as totally commercial is a mystery. Apparently everyone else thinks that we live int he best possible of all worlds. Maybe I just haven’t found the right medication yet to really get with the current program.
This George Orwell passage bears looking at for me:
“The artist is to be exempt from the moral laws that are binding on ordinary people. Just pronounce the magic word “Art” and everything is OK. Rotting corpses with snails crawling over them are OK; kicking little girls in the head is OK; even a film like L’Age d’Or (which shows among other things detailed shots of a woman defecating) is OK.”
Herein lies the problem (and my copy of L”Age d’Or has no detailed shots of a woman defecating, though I do note them in Odd Nerdrum paintings). I don’t see anything whatsoever problematic with showing grotesque subject matter within a moral system that encompasses Dante’s hell or Buddhist hells, Japanese demons, Kubrick films and so on. (See Brueghel detail above).
I do see a serious, as well as fatal, problem when sexual decadence being shown purely gratuitously, with no context whatsoever other than to please the prurient tastes of the Las Vegas minded viewers who thrill at it all. And I think the morality of those inside this questionable system who are not raising their voices in protest against it to be a bit questionable themselves.
The “See No Evil. Hear No Evil. Speak No Evil.” doesn’t strike me as at all tenable in the sense of Burke’s admonition that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.
Plus there’s this more recent Feb 2016 note on Hirst along with pity for the credulous saps who invested in him. And I imagine that would extend to the much of the rest if not all of the YBAs. I’m putting Ruth Dudley Edward’s Killing the Emperors into my Amazon queue. Sounds like an even more fun read than the Kimball piece.