How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

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What About the Other Face of Contemporary Art?

Postby Allegro » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:33 pm

.
    The following abridgement, which I've introduced ^^
    is half of the original word count: 3691;
    see numerous links & bibliography in original
    ~ A.
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June 2008

What About the Other Face of Contemporary Art?
by Michelle Marder Kamhi & 1982 founder of Aristos, Louis Torres

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This article was originally published, with endnotes and bibliography, in the March 2008 issue of Art Education, the journal of the National Art Education Association. In the present version the endnotes have been incorporated into the body of the article, and many of the bibliographic references have been replaced with links. A brief bibliography follows.
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    It is unfortunate that in current artworld usage contemporary does not simply mean “of the same time as the speaker or writer,” as ordinary usage would lead one to expect. Instead it refers specifically to anti-modernist work —that is, to the unconventional forms typical of postmodernism. Such usage is clearly reflected in museums of “contemporary art.” For example, MASS MoCA [more] (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) —the largest of its kind in the United States— has characterized itself as dedicated to “the creation and presentation of provocative visual and performing arts pieces, and of works that blur conventional distinctions between artistic disciplines,” while also “function[ing] as a laboratory for the contemporary arts, fostering experimentation by artists.” (That statement, from “About MASS MoCA” on the museum’s website last year, has since been revised, but “innovation and experimentation” are still emphasized —see “History.”)

    A similar conception governs museums of contemporary art in Los Angeles [more: click on a “classification type” to view thumbnails], Miami, Chicago [more], and elsewhere, as well as the Department of Contemporary Art of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, as is evident from their respective websites. Though such collections often include abstract work created after 1940 or so, their emphasis is on postmodernist genres such as “installation art,” “conceptual art,” and “video art.”

    The call for papers for the issue of Art Education in which this article originally appeared —a Special Issue devoted to contemporary art— reflected the same bias. Referring to “interactive art installations,” “sound art,” “ephemeral performances,” and “monumental digital dialogues” as “exploding, expanding, and re-imagining that which is at the center of what we do in art education —Art,” it implied that the age-old art forms of painting and sculpture are now irrelevant and that the concept of art has no boundaries (links are to web pages cited in the call for papers).

    Surely teachers of the visual arts might question how and why such things as “sound art,” “performance art,” and “monumental digital dialogues” entered that realm to begin with, and whether they logically belong there. They might also question how and why such forms have largely eclipsed traditional art forms in the contemporary artworld. At the very least, art teachers ought to inform their students of alternative viewpoints regarding these questions.

    It is an ironic fact that the unconventional forms regarded as “contemporary art” owe their origin to the anti-art impulses of both the 1960s and the preceding Dada movement. The Dadaists (who inspired the early postmodernists —whose work is often referred to as Neo-Dada) aimed to dispense with art altogether. Contrary to an assumption generally shared by arts professionals and scholars today, the “readymades” of the Dadaists’ fellow traveler Marcel Duchamp should not be regarded as precursors for a new approach to “art,” for he plainly stated that he never intended them to be art. According to the entry on Duchamp in the Grove Dictionary of Art, “his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art.” Yet when Duchamp was asked, in an interview two years before his death, how he had come “to choose a mass-produced object, a ‘readymade,’ to make a work of art,” he responded:

      Please note that I didn’t want to make a work of art out of it…. [W]hen I put a bicycle wheel on a stool, the fork down, there was no idea of a “readymade,” or anything else. It was just a distraction. I didn’t have any special reason to do it, or any intention of showing it, or describing anything. No, nothing like all that. …

    Postmodernist inventions such as “conceptual art” and “performance art” originated expressly as anti-art gestures. As noted by Thomas McEvilley in The Triumph of Anti-Art and by us in What Art Is, they were reactions against Abstract Expressionism, then dominant in the artworld. A reaction against the arbitrary formalism and meaninglessness of abstract painting (which were trenchantly satirized by Tom Wolfe in The Painted Word) was surely warranted if one believes that art should be meaningful. But what that reaction produced was often equally arbitrary and baffling —an endless proliferation of alleged new art forms that are, we have argued, the deliberate antithesis of all prior art. Hence, the term anti-art. As noted by McEvilley, countless works of “Conceptual Art,” in particular, have been intended to “resist … interpretation.” He further observes: “These [unprecedented] objects, one feels somewhat eerily, might be meaningful to some unknown aesthetic from some unheard of species or culture.”

    By definition, however, “anti-art” is not art (the prefix anti- means “against, opposite, or opposed to”). Indeed, early postmodernist theorists such as Allan Kaprow and Henry Flynt openly declared that the new forms they were advocating had nothing in common with what had previously been termed art and therefore should probably be called something else. Soon, however, the postmodernists were willingly co-opted by the very economic and cultural forces they were reacting against, so that their anti-art has, in McEvilley’s words, “attained … more or less complete dominance in the art world” (on this point, see Louis Torres’s “The Interminable Monopoly of the Avant Garde,” forthcoming).

    Just as contemporary works of painting and sculpture, especially those in a traditional “academic” or “classical realist” style, were by implication excluded from consideration for this special issue, so too they are absent from public museums of so-called contemporary art. Yet they are, after all, of our time. Such work —indeed the very existence of the artists who create it— is largely ignored by scholars and teachers, as well as (most tellingly) by critics, whose bias is discernible from a survey conducted a few years ago by the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University. None of the top 25 individuals ranked by the critics —nor any of the 84 named in the survey— are traditional realist painters or sculptors. And so estimable an artist as Andrew Wyeth [more], whom we consider the greatest living American painter, is not even mentioned.

    Only rarely have public exhibitions of the work of such artists been organized, and even then they have generally been relegated by default to out-of-the-way venues. One exhibition, organized in 1982 and pointedly entitled Classical Realism: The Other Twentieth Century, was first shown at the Springville Museum in Utah, for example, before traveling to other relatively obscure locations. More recently, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta mounted Slow Painting: A Deliberate Renaissance [more], devoted to an “art movement focused on highly skilled figure painting [harking] back to the Old Masters of Europe.”

    Much-needed light was shed on this other face of contemporary art by a series of three panel discussions held at the Dahesh Museum of Art in New York City in 2005, featuring traditional painters and sculptors. On the whole, the panelists offered a somber assessment of the generally inhospitable nature of today’s art establishment toward work such as theirs. Since we have elsewhere reported in detail on those discussions (“The Other Face of ‘Contemporary Art’,” Aristos, January 2006), we will merely comment here on a few of the salient concerns voiced by this neglected group of contemporary artists.

    An overarching theme of the Dahesh discussions was the destructive influence exerted by the tendency to view art history as a linear progression from one new movement to another. Nearly a century ago the painter-critic Kenyon Cox warned, in a lecture before the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts in 1912 (reprinted in Artist and Public), that the notion of linear progress in the arts, unlike that in science, was an unfortunate illusion —one that was prompting an ever-madder stampede for novelty. Yet to find a place in today’s artworld, would-be artists are led to believe that they must, at all costs, be innovative. In its grant-making in the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, for example, places a high premium on “experimentation,” as indicated on the relevant NEA web page. So, too, the chief art critic at the New York Times writes that “about the best, and the rarest, compliment you can give to any artist” is that his work is “new.”

    The prevailing emphasis on novelty has not only marginalized traditional painters and sculptors, it has also impeded public recognition of many excellent artists of the past hundred years or so whose work is deemed retrograde. Ask any culturally literate adult “Who sculpted the seated figure of Lincoln [more] at the memorial in the nation’s capital?” for example, and the likely answer will be “I don’t know.” Yet the same person, if asked who made images of Campbell’s Soup cans [more] in the 1960s, would no doubt readily supply the correct answer. We recently posed these questions to a dozen senior-level art educators, one of whom teaches American art history. None of them could name the sculptor of the Lincoln figure —Daniel Chester French. All knew that the paintings of Campbell’s Soup cans were by Andy Warhol.

    The assumption that truly contemporary artists must now embrace postmodernism (on the heels of the prior assumption that truly modern artists had to embrace abstraction —as the foremost modernist critic, Clement Greenberg, had proclaimed in 1939 in his seminal essay “Avant-Garde and Kitsch”) has led to a major irony of today’s artworld. Although drawing has for centuries been considered the foundational skill of visual artists, art training on the college and university level —especially in MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs— has in recent decades deemphasized such basic skills. When Gregory Hedberg, formerly curator of paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, became chief curator of the Wadsworth Atheneum and a trustee of the Hartford Art School, for example, he discovered that the school’s life-drawing class, offered only once each week, consisted merely of the presence of a nude model whom the students were allowed to draw, “unencumbered by any instruction.” In his view, this practice “was typical of most art schools at the time [the 1980s] and was akin to teaching music by allowing students to look at a piano once a week.” Three decades ago, the sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler was moved to found the school that has become the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts [more], because she, too, saw that art departments in colleges and universities were no longer offering adequate training in the fundamentals of art. As she stated: “There were fewer and fewer artists still alive who had studied the basic fundamentals … that every generation of artists from the Renaissance to Picasso had been taught.”

    Nonetheless, the MFA is regarded as attesting to one’s professional qualification as an artist. According to the College Art Association’s MFA standards, in fact, the degree serves as “a guarantee of a high level of professional competence in the visual arts” (emphasis in original).

< snip to end >

The entire original article.
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
~ Timothy White (b 1952), American rock music journalist
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Re: What About the Other Face of Contemporary Art?

Postby barracuda » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:14 pm

Yet when Duchamp was asked, in an interview two years before his death, how he had come “to choose a mass-produced object, a ‘readymade,’ to make a work of art,” he responded:

    Please note that I didn’t want to make a work of art out of it…. [W]hen I put a bicycle wheel on a stool, the fork down, there was no idea of a “readymade,” or anything else. It was just a distraction. I didn’t have any special reason to do it, or any intention of showing it, or describing anything. No, nothing like all that. …


Pish. Duchamp was a notorious liar. Only a mark would take his statements about his work at face value.
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Project Willow » Wed May 11, 2011 3:45 pm

^^ I swear I just heard Su's ashes settle in the cabinet.


Brain scans reveal the power of art
Works of art can give as much joy as being head over heels in love, according to a new scientific study.
By Robert Mendick, Chief reporter 8:00AM BST 08 May 2011

Human guinea pigs underwent brain scans while being shown a series of 30 paintings by some of the world's greatest artists.

The artworks they considered most beautiful increased blood flow in a certain part of the brain by as much as 10 per cent – the equivalent to gazing at a loved one.

Paintings by John Constable, Ingres, the French neoclassical painter, and Guido Reni, the 17th century Italian artist, produced the most powerful 'pleasure' response in those taking part in the experiment.

Works by Hieronymus Bosch, Honore Damier and the Flemish artist Massys – the 'ugliest' art used in the experiment – led to the smallest increases in blood flow. Other paintings shown were by artists such as Monet, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Cezanne.

Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London, who conducted the experiment, said: "We wanted to see what happens in the brain when you look at beautiful paintings.
......


Rest at the link...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/8500012/Brain-scans-reveal-the-power-of-art.html
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Canadian_watcher » Wed May 11, 2011 4:00 pm

^

wow that article reads entirely differently if you miss the very first word.
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Project Willow » Wed May 11, 2011 5:25 pm

:rofl:
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Luther Blissett » Tue May 17, 2011 5:52 pm

Is this scientific proof of the objectivity of aesthetic?
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby justdrew » Fri May 20, 2011 3:21 am

could someone tell me what to think about Richard Prince. also, I suspect he may answer the question of the OP, if by art one meant "art-business"
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Luther Blissett » Sun May 22, 2011 6:31 pm

justdrew wrote:could someone tell me what to think about Richard Prince. also, I suspect he may answer the question of the OP, if by art one meant "art-business"


He was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Other than that…I don't know.
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Project Willow » Mon May 23, 2011 4:20 pm

Ai Weiwei’s Portrait Projected on NYC Chinese Consulate
by Kyle Chayka on May 23, 2011

On this past Friday May 20, Cuban artist Geandy Pavon did a guerrilla projection protest for Ai Weiwei. In this work, called “Nemesis Ai Weiwei: The Elusiveness of Being”, Pavon projected Ai’s face onto the blank street-side facade of the New York City Chinese Consulate. Click through for video documentation of the project.


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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Project Willow » Mon May 23, 2011 4:48 pm

Luther Blissett wrote:Is this scientific proof of the objectivity of aesthetic?


Seems like a thread in itself, but your question reminded me of this art project:

Komar and Melamid

The Alternative Museum, New York, USA

Why does contemporary art occupy such a marginal place in our cultural life? Could it be because artists don’t give a shit about the general public? The hallowed tradition of the avant-garde is anti-populist to the bone, and despite its ideological demise (few sane individuals still subscribe to the idea that artists can lead us to a bolder, brighter future), its structural legacy remains. Indeed, it becomes more difficult by the day to disagree with Ortega y Gasset’s quip that the main purpose of contemporary art is to ‘help the elite…learn their mission which consists in being few and holding their own against the many.’

There’s a certain poetic irony in the fact that the first survey of the American public’s taste in art has been commissioned by a pair of Russian émigrés. With financial help from the Nation Institute, artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid hired an opinion research firm to conduct a ‘scientific sampling’ of 1001 adults. After sifting through this statistical portrait of the nation’s aesthetic biases, Komar and Melamid created ‘The People’s Choice’, the exhibition of paintings that objectively reflect American tastes.

The artists’ goal, according to a press release, is to replace ‘the archaic ‘hit or miss’ system of artistic creation…with a truly scientific mechanism assuring that the popular taste will be served!’ In a neat stroke, the socialist dream of a people’s art is realised with the tools of corporate capitalism.

On the surface, it sounds like an elaborate and expensive prank (the polling firm’s services carry an $80,000 price tag.) But Komar and Melamid’s project raises concerns not only about how people weigh aesthetic choices, but about relations between art and commerce, and the nature of polls, which, as it turns out, produce kitsch in art and politics alike.

.............

rest at the link

http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/komar_and_melamid/


America's Most Wanted Painting:
Image

America's Most Unwanted Painting
Image

France's Most Unwanted Painting
Image
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Project Willow » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:20 am

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-china-artist-20110623,0,4814130.story

China frees artist Ai Weiwei on bail
The government cites 'good attitude in confessing his crimes' in its abrupt release of the acerbic dissident Ai Weiwei, who was in prison for two months without charges. He may now face a civil case.

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times

June 22, 2011, 7:29 p.m.
Reporting from Beijing—
After languishing for more than two months in prison without formal charges, China's most famous dissident artist was abruptly released on bail late Wednesday.

The official New China News Agency reported that Ai had been freed "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from."

The 54-year-old artist is reported to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, although he was not known to be seriously ill. More likely the release was a belated response by Chinese authorities to the international reproach that followed Ai's arrest April 3 at the Beijing airport.

But it appeared that he would not be able to pursue the biting criticism of the Chinese Communist Party that had permeated his artwork and writing.

"I'm not allowed to talk. I'm on probation," he said apologetically to reporters and supporters who greeted him about midnight as he returned to his studio in northeastern Beijing.

Dressed casually in a gray T-shirt and appearing in good health, he said his future plans were to "enjoy life."

"Everybody should enjoy life. I can't say anything,'' he said before disappearing behind the gates to the studio.
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Re: What About the Other Face of Contemporary Art?

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:57 am

barracuda wrote:
Yet when Duchamp was asked, in an interview two years before his death, how he had come “to choose a mass-produced object, a ‘readymade,’ to make a work of art,” he responded:

    Please note that I didn’t want to make a work of art out of it…. [W]hen I put a bicycle wheel on a stool, the fork down, there was no idea of a “readymade,” or anything else. It was just a distraction. I didn’t have any special reason to do it, or any intention of showing it, or describing anything. No, nothing like all that. …


Pish.


This fellow's learning. We'll make a True Brit of him yet.

barracuda wrote:Duchamp was a notorious liar. Only a mark would take his statements about his work at face value.


It's like when Joan Baez asked Bob Dylan why he wrote Masters of War and he said - "for the money". Haha. Who'd buy that?

Art will muddle along just fine in Corporo-Fascist America, like it has since the days of the Robber Barons, and as it did under the Papacy (in Europe). Come to think of it, even Soviet art is pretty good - not as good as it would've been without the Soviet government, but it exists, and is world class, and above all unique (and highly collectible, if you care about that). Even the Nazis (and Iran until recently) made very impressive and undeniably artistic films - which is something that corporo-fascist America might consider doing again someday. :lol:
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby blanc » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:01 am

I think art comes, quite often, from a dark place in the human soul, and that this can't be faked by conscious effort. So, academecism (is that a word?) was a bag of tricks which artists sought to circumvent in the 20th century, stepping aside from their training in how to draw something that looks right, because it was getting in the way of expression. Now, it seems to me, we've substituted a new kind of academecism, which risks again getting in the way of expression for similar kinds of reasons, form being elevated and content suppressed. There's a very self conscious kind of content paraded in many works, something we can easily describe but in no way experience. When you feel yourself in front of such a work and can almost hear the teacher of dispirited group museum visit thirteen year olds saying "what do you think the artist was trying to tell us" and getting the all too obvious answer droned back before moving on with the clipboard to the next exhibit. The means needed to access facilities for new formalism often outstrip the cost of a simple studio, canvas and oils. Surviving to produce work has always been a difficulty. It helps to trade your soul if you never needed it anyway.
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby Project Willow » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:58 pm

blanc wrote:Now, it seems to me, we've substituted a new kind of academecism, which risks again getting in the way of expression for similar kinds of reasons, form being elevated and content suppressed.


I would agree if you were to name newness of form as one of a collection of current strictures. Generally I'd say over the last 2 decades it is concept, the idea, that is given weight and value above all other components. Some of the most lauded works are horrible constructions intended to directly represent an idea that was obviously generated through an intentionally honed-down, emotionless, conscious exercise. Perhaps in its infinitely clever conformity to the needs and desires of power this art is indeed avant-guarde, it's just a big wuss.

blanc wrote:There's a very self conscious kind of content paraded in many works, something we can easily describe but in no way experience.


Your statement here reminded me of this recent article (below), and perhaps I should cross post it in the hauntology thread, but then I'm drawing connections between areas where I only have a shallow understanding.

Generation Blank
The beautiful, cerebral, ultimately content-free creations of art’s well-schooled young lions.

By Jerry Saltz

I went to Venice, and I came back worried. Every two years, the central attraction of the Biennale is a kind of State of the Art World show. This year’s, called “Illuminations,” has its share of high points and ­artistic intensity. (Frances Stark’s animated video of her online masturbatory tryst with a younger man hooked me; Christian Marclay’s The Clock, which captivated New York earlier this year, rightly won the Gold Lion Prize for Best ­Artist.) Yet many times over—too many times for comfort—I saw the same thing, a highly recognizable generic ­institutional style whose manifestations are by now extremely familiar. Neo-Structuralist film with overlapping geometric colors, photographs about photographs, projectors screening loops of grainy black-and-white archival footage, abstraction that’s supposed to be referencing other abstraction—it was all there, all straight out of the seventies, all dead in the ­water. It’s work stuck in a cul-de-sac of aesthetic regress, where everyone is deconstructing the same elements.

There’s always conformity in art—fashions come in and out—but such obsessive devotion to a previous generation’s ideals and ideas is very wrong. It suggests these artists are too much in thrall to their elders, excessively satisfied with an insider’s game of art, not really making their own work. That they are becoming a Lost Generation.

See Also:
Jerry Saltz’s Best and Worst of the Venice Biennale

Our culture now wonderfully, ­alchemically transforms images and history into artistic material. The possibilities seem endless and wide open. Yet these artists draw their histories and images only from a super-attenuated gene pool. It’s all-parsing, all the time. Their art turns in on itself, becoming nothing more than coded language. It empties their work of content, becoming a way to avoid interior chaos. It’s also a kind of addiction and, by now, a new orthodoxy, one supported by institutions and loved by curators who also can’t let go of the same glory days.

..........

Rest at the link: http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/venice-biennale-2011-6/
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Re: How does Art Live in Corporo-Fascist America?

Postby blanc » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:01 pm

Generally I'd say over the last 2 decades it is concept, the idea, that is given weight and value above all other components.


I meant, but didn't express too well, that the conceptualism is the form, often pretty much contentless in terms of communication of any deep meaning.
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