Sensible people in action
Post #1405 • October 15, 2009, 9:31 AM • 32 Comments
This isn't the first time that technically inept oil painting has been elevated to the position of high art. Hirst's paintings remind me of nothing so much as the lesser products of the so-called New Image Painting of the 1980s that gave rise to art world stars such as Julian Schnabel and Georg Baselitz. ... No one has made such comparisons today, perhaps because they don't want to dilute their observations, to fall back on the kind of relative judgment that would feel all too typical of our mealy-mouthed times, by looking at something that is outright bad in the context of something that is slightly less bad.
Anyone seriously interested in learning about Morandi's involvement with Italian fascism can read all about it in this excellent book. Anyone who believes that it matters in the present context - or who is capable of using the phrases "mild-mannered" and "fiercely reactionary" to describe Morandi's visionary, intensely concentrated art - is a philistine.
That said, I'll give Gopnik this much: at least he acknowledges that the Obamas' choice of art almost certainly reflects non-aesthetic priorities to some unknown and unknowable extent.
We are constantly told that Cameroons are passionate about appearances. Tories mustn’t be seen to be drinking champagne, for instance, or cutting taxes, or embracing their Thatcherite heritage. Yet for some reason it is acceptable for the shadow culture secretary to pass a happy afternoon in Scott’s of Mayfair, basking in the company of an artist who could hardly do more to symbolise the most embarrassing excesses of the 1990s art boom — an historical re-enactment of New Labour’s innocent early days, complete with a naughty, tax-averse, Thatcher-friendly meta-theme. Yes, of course I am a conservative — but when I sit down to enumerate the traditions I wish to preserve and defend, the arts policies of the late 1990s do not feature prominently in my thoughts. And, for what it’s worth, for once I don’t think I’m taking even a vaguely contrarian position.
The contents of this letter to the editor have been deleted out of sensitivity to the fragile mental state of Amy Fung.