21 December 2007


I was dragging my eyes through comments, in which readers alternately praised Stanley Fish for pointing out the naked king and discredited him as a philistine, and this jumped out at me:

I don’t like art that shows me stuff I’ve seen (as in the New Museum). I like art that shows me stuff I’ve never seen (e.g., Jackson Pollock). And best of all I like art that shows me stuff I mistakenly thought I’d seen (Cezanne).
— Posted by Anthony D'Amato

Perfect! This comment wastes no time on what is or is not art, and wastes no time on charges of philistinism or fakery, and I like that. It simply stakes out some ground for deciding what one should value in art.

Of course, the whole point about contemporary art, the thing to "get," is that anything goes. But does it really? And should it? What point, other than fealty to Duchamp, does this en masse expression of gullibility prove?

There is no magic in art if it is already right, if anything really does go. And this absence of common critical ground winds up disrespecting artists, whose work must be engaged either in terms of bobble-headed approval or retarded strawman arguments about what is or is not art.

There's no good reason for art to be this kind of sucker's game.


Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

I am going to be spending some time with this exhibit. I think there are some important things to consider, for example, it insists upon being sculpture, and not the"'relational art" of a Jason Rhoades, for ex. That's a refusal I can live with.

Don't you think that there might be anything interesting at all in an exhibit that makes a claim for practices that have become this visible in the contemporary art world? The stuff you've seen before? Is this a fashion show or an art exhibition? This is a real question.

And aren't you also a little tired of everybody losing the shape of the exhibition in their disappointment over the lack of furniture and bad lighting? I'm waiting for people to really start talking about this show. It has genuine aspirations, maybe weak, maybe strong, but nobody has gotten anywhere near it yet.

Much of what I see in contemporary art IS a suckers game full of contempt and coercion. Discernment is in order. So, who in this exhibit is worth the time, maybe counts, and what is neo about neo-appropraition?

22 December, 2007 18:03  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

I hope you don't think this rude, but I've got a solid start on Unmonumental that you can agree or disagree with at http://catherinesarttours.blogspot.com. I'm not sure I answered any of the questions I raised here, although there is something abut attitude that resonates with the question "is it a fashion show or an art exhibition?". Anyway, I had fun writing it and hope you have fun reading it!

31 December, 2007 10:38  

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