Pushback against pomo art orthodoxies

Three recent and encouraging data points:

hirstdamienThe collapse of Damien Hirst’s art market — Bloomberg notes that “at a time when the contemporary art market has sharply rebounded, with auctions pulling in proceeds that rival the giddiest pre-recession highs,” Hirst’s value has jumped the shark. “Hirst works acquired during his commercial peak, between 2005 and 2008, have since resold at an average loss of 30 percent. And that probably understates the decline — judging from the dropoff in sales volume, collectors aren’t bringing their big-ticket Hirsts to market. A third of the more than 1,700 Hirst pieces offered at auctions since 2009 have failed to sell at all — they’ve been ‘burned,’ in the terminology of the art world.” andy-warhol_self-portrait

“The Curse of Warholism” — In The New Republic, critic Jed Perl speaks for many: “I would be perfectly happy never to see anything by Andy Warhol again. But Warholism does need to be addressed, because it poses a direct threat to any nuanced experience of the arts.”

This conference in California, to my knowledge the first academic gathering of critics, philosophers, and artists on the rejuvenation of representational art.trac-logo

All good signs.

Ten years ago I suggested that the postmodern art world had become stale (and again here), even on its own terms, and that the art world was ready to move on. Re-making the art world will be the work of energetic, creative artists and critics — and philosophers. As Perl notes above, it’s Warholism more than Warhol that is the problem.

4 thoughts on “Pushback against pomo art orthodoxies

  • November 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Interesting news. What is your view of the efforts of ARC in this area?

  • November 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    The comparison with art to music I wrote of earlier still stands. Music flows from the heart through the mind. Mozart: “A composer needs a heart of fire, a head of ice.” Music cannot express ideas directly, but emotions or “feelings” (it is a broad term) that conform to a rigid form (even the fugue) yet ennoble the truly free section of humankind. The visual arts must perforce re-create nature or “reality”; this task is no less difficult than music’s direct calling on human sensibilities. To paint merely colors or dribbles or commonplaces denies the purpose of the visual arts, so does music without harmonic or melodic niceties, or a novel without a plot or theme. Art, like the brain, encompasses reality. American art went into the doldrums after Edward Hopper or Andrew Wyeth. The New York city “gang” of financiers decided they knew what was art, bought it cheap, bribed art critics to praise it, sold it dear, and then took credit for being art patrons like the Medici. However, there is nothing to compare Peggy Guggenheim with Lorenzo the Magnificent. The use of money and the NYC media octopus, with TV, NY Times, various art magazines, the MOM, and every phoney Anglo-exec from Connecticut — including Henry Luce — took art to new lows, merely to demonstrate the “power” of money and the media. The not uninteresting Huntington Hartford (who used to own A & P Stores) wrote a book ART OR ANARCHY? People no longer listen avidly to Schoenberg and other such junk, people who go to galleries tend to admire the masters. Which is why museums have to be built mainly to house that variegated experimenting. The American audience is grossly uninformed, pretending to have “good taste” (like Charlie, the Star Kist Tuna) and too lazy to study a painting by Bosch or Breughel — they want more a nosh with bagel. The work of Normal Rockwell — a first rate technician — failed with its mawkish content. It is ten times harder to paint a good portrait than splash colors in a “meaningful” array. That cartoons have been blown up (Lichtenstein), soup cans rendered (Warhol) or simple color blocks put up “in yo’ face” by Rothko — means nothing except “one is born every minute.” That someone paid eighty million for a Rothko is testimony to outrageous parvenus wanting to flaunt their dollars –they might have had a Cezanne or Monet for such dough. I think Hegel wrote in an essay that art would become, like music, without direct form — but that it would NOT LAST.


  • November 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    the notion of representational art versus abstract is a misnomer. the qualities that make visual art good can found in any forms. aside from the fact that in the age of high-powered telescopes and electron microscopes, not to speak of cyclotrons, the question is begged: represent what?

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