Post #56 • July 9, 2003, 5:18 PM
I was amazed to read the following in Holland Cotter’s review of “Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure” at the Art Institute of Chicago: “Progressive thinking about art in the 1990’s emphasized the social dynamics of art and the political implications of concepts like ‘beauty,’ while conservative voices warned that such thinking would produce a crushing tidal wave of theory-heavy, object-poor shows. The reality is, that wave never hit.”
It didn’t? My own experience in the galleries and contemporary museums over the last ten years is that one must go in braced for a cold dousing of sophistry and poor objects. “Progressive” 90’s-era thinking was so retrogressive that even a painter as dehydrated as Peter Halley could be characterized as an aesthete. The current situation shows signs of improvement due to the fact that the aesthetic attitude isn’t “shopworn,” as Mr. Cotter put it, but perennial.