greengang said: I'm also wondering about your dismissal of contemporary art as "detrius"- What is it about contemporary art, and what sorts of pieces of contemporary art do you perceive as so worthless?

Thanks for your interest. We have tackled this subject, both directly and indirectly, several times in the past. In essence, the problem with contemporary art is that it is based on several false notions. The first is that art is self-expression. This creates a dynamic of violence between the viewer and artist; and it leads to an obsession with “subtext” and “meaning”, to the detriment of tangible content. At this time, its purest expression is conceptual art. Self-expression replaced the ancient idea that art is depiction: a non-violent, experiential space in which the viewer is immersed. Hence, we have on one end the vapid, content-free work of Tracey Emin, and on the other the rich, endlessly complex work of Gian Bernini.

Second, contemporary art is based on the concept of ”art”. As we have said in previous articles, this is a recent invention that would have puzzled most people throughout history. The idea that art is a category has led to the further belief that artworks are meaningful in themselves: that there is significance in their very existence. In fact, there is today an unspoken consensus that those things which are not called “art” are worse—less ”important”—than those which are so called. All of this is false. Art does not exist; artworks are only meaningful to the extent that their depictions are meaningful; and, in large part, it is the contemporary works not generally called “art” that deserve attention. The idea that “self-expression” is “art” and that “art” is “meaningful” has allowed for the justification of work that, to the average person, has no worth whatsoever. It is the reason why someone will pay roughly $4.6 million for a pile of candy assembled by Félix González-Torres.

Third, as suggested above, art has been given to the intellectual alone. This is a critical part of contemporary and even much modern art: the notion that only an individual with too much education can decode the “meanings” placed, intentionally or unintentionally, within a work. This means that contemporary art has no importance to the everyman. Seeing an exhibition of My Bed is not a transcendent or meaningful experience, because My Bed has no surface content. There is nothing exciting or beautiful or thrilling or even interesting about My Bed. That is the point of the work. To the innocent bystander who does not find significance in irony for irony’s sake, it is an Emperor’s New Clothes situation through-and-through. That bystander, it should be said, is the only one who really sees the work for itself.

Much more could be said (and much more has been said in the linked articles), but we will leave off at this point. We hope this was helpful.


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