keeping up with the times
Post #683 • December 13, 2005, 9:03 AM • 21 Comments
A few settling-in items:
A long overdue upgrade to the Artblog.net CMS put all the time offsets in one place. This, firstly, solves dumb One Hour Off errors whenever we go on or off Daylight Savings Time, and secondly, allowed me to easily switch the site over to GMT+8, which is my current time zone in Taichung. (Miami is GMT-5. It is 13 hours later here.) I thought about leaving the time zone on Miami, but I realized that it was making me confused and aggravating my jet lag.
Via Jeffrey Carson (ModKix also links), a sprawling essay in the New York Times this past weekend by Barry Gewen about several 20th Century art surveys and their authors' allegiances. Mr. Gewen wins the Astute Observation of the Month Award, Art Writing Category, for this paragraph:
A single theme or complaint unites these otherwise disparate voices. Rosenberg lamented modern art's "anything goes" attitude. Ruhrberg writes that "in painting today, anything goes." By the early 70's, according to the authors of "Art Since 1900," "it seemed, as the song had put it, 'anything goes.' " Kramer has said: "With the eruption of the Pop Art movement, an element of demystification came into the art world, an element of cynicism, an element of... 'anything goes.' " If there is a presiding spirit over the art of recent decades, it is not Jackson Pollock, and not Andy Warhol. It is Cole Porter.
The article is worth all seven clickthroughs if only to see the lay of the art criticism landscape, which Gewen has done an admirable job surveying. But after he finds so many critical approaches wanting, it falls on him to provide one himself, and he blows it.
Harold Rosenberg had said that art was "a space open for the individual to realize himself in knowing himself." Today, after decades of narcissistic and exhibitionistic spectacles, when it's possible to grasp the limits of Rosenberg's libertarian ethos, we can see that he should have said art was not only a space for the individual to realize himself in knowing himself, but also a space to enable others to know themselves, as well as a space to evoke the bonds that exist between artist and spectator in their common self-awareness, which is to say in their common humanity. It's a definition that understands art is necessarily a social interaction, communication between people, dialogue, not merely the unfettered expression of the boundless ego as has been the case with so much work over the past few decades.
This decent, well-meaning assertion resembles one by Suzi Gablik that art ought to re-embrace its social or even shamanic function, giving expression to the impulses of the group mind. Unfortunately, art directed at this effort, like any other non-art effort, may or may not succeed as art, and thus may produce a failed art object with social import. As it happens, one person expressing himself honestly will more likely evince those shared impulses in a lasting manner, and I would push art there if anywhere.
Also via Jeffrey (ModKix links as well... JL, we must get you down to the Aegean Center one day...), a fascinating history of Fra Angelico scholarship en route to a review of his exhibition at the Met, by Marco Grassi for the New Criterion. Would somebody pick up a copy of this issue (December 2005) for me?
Lastly, Artblog.net wishes a lightning-quick recovery to Terry Teachout.