Opening Another Front

Dennis Bellone and Paul Corio have teamed up to discuss the institutional critique and a lively discussion it is. Paul began with an incisive discussion about Carl Andre expanding into a larger critique of Postmodern theoretics. “At this point in history, it is understood that the bricks are art, along with a dazzling array of things that would never be considered as such prior to the twentieth century. Now that the bricks have lost all power to pose difficult questions, all that’s left is the art, and as art, there’s not much to see…”

In a wonderful return post Dennis contends, “The problem inherent in post-modernism is that it is the opposite side of the coin, modernism being the obverse. The coin in fact needs to be jettisoned as it provides inadequate support for the future and in my opinion, the reality of what art is. As an educational tool both sets of theories and those adjacent to it provide an entry point into understanding the development in western culture of arts function and place. Now what is left is art and marketplace economics, and this is not just arts problem, it is a societal illness that pervades every aspect of American culture in particular.”

Earlier this week on Ovation I watched Robert Hughes’ wonderful show “The Mona Lisa Curse.” Now this program could be mistaken for an old man’s rant about the good old days, but it’s far more than that. It is a hard critique of the state of a High Mannerist Age. I highly recommend it, especially the meeting of Hughes and Rosenquist – two old lions telling stories. Fantastic!
More of us are moving into uncharted areas and we’re looking back for foundations rather than for resources and we’re questioning and experimenting with new thoughts about the continuing problem of the Postmodern academy.

2 thoughts on “Opening Another Front”

  1. Thanks for the Hughes reference. I watched the whole thing, kvetching a lot, appreciating some, and, as usual, being amazed at the curmudgeon’s downturned mouth. He was much cuter when he was young.

    What Hughes neglects to notice, of course, is that the popularization of art means that more of us local-yokels will get visually excited and perhaps even take up some kind of art-making, even if we aren’t in New York/London/Paris/Florence. While he has always been of a privileged class, most of us would never have access to anything remotely like the Mona Lisa if it weren’t for the “curse” after which he so cutely names his show.

    I’m not fond of the foolish commodification of art, but I am fond of the popularization of art and its availability. Something about my existence outside the rarified realms makes me grateful for whatever tidbits of genius I can see and emulate. Since I don’t have the imagination to believe I’m going to make it at the Portland Art Museum, much less the Met, I find that I can’t get too het up about the expenditures of vast sums on formaldyhyde.

    Much more important to me is the rise of a visual culture that, while it may be too much and too often mere reproduction, is also open to far more people. I suspect that if Hughes had his way, most of us wouldn’t be allowed to mess with paints, and, if we can’t afford to get to the Louvre, then we don’t deserve to see the art elsewhere.

    But then, I might just be a bit of a curmudgeon myself. He’s quite right on many points, but I’m thinking he needs to get out of The City more.

  2. Sir Thomas Aquinas defined art as “right reason in making things.” That definition followed me all through art school. As an artist, it was deeply ingrained in me that my art should be created with a goal in mind. For myself, it was the pure pleasure of creating it. While flattering for someone to offer vast amounts for the work, I agree that the art loses it’s meaning when created strictly for monetary gain, rather than as a creative outlet. Sadly, gone are the days of creating art for arts sake. In my opinion, much of contemporary art has lost it’s aesthetic value and instead concentrates on gimmicks, fads or shock value – whether be it fine art, music or film. Honestly, I don’t think the Michelangelos, Mozarts and Hitchcocks of yesteryear ever imagined their art forms to morph into what is coined “art” today. Kudos to Mr. Hughes for adding voice to the concerns of many artists and teachers of art.

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