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Post #1454 • February 11, 2010, 4:43 PM • 80 Comments

My computer exploded earlier this week. Actually, just the video card. Really, just some capacitors on the video card. But they literally exploded their casings. It sounded like an M-80 went off on my desk. The new card arrives tomorrow. In the meantime, some items of note.

"'What it means to be an artist today - where do we start on that one?' muses Ed Ruscha, almost nonplussed. Finally, the soft-spoken art veteran decides : 'It means facing a lot of information that's going to be very difficult to take in and swallow because there's so much of it.'"

"It is estimated that 20 percent of the worldwide art market is made up of forgeries. But art lover and Dartmouth College mathematics department Chairman Daniel Rockmore has developed a technique that is helping to determine the difference between excellent copy and the real McCoy."

Greg Cook: "Yokelism is about being proudly provincial. Please don’t get confused and think it means being blind cheerleaders. That’s not Yokelism. Yokelism is about tough love, because we Yokelists have ambitions for our creative community. But Yokelism is also about recognizing when we produce amazing stuff and championing it like we’re doing here tonight."

Rob Willms: "There has been enough muckraking of dissenters that I feel I must first state the obvious: criticality does not a hater make. I for one always try to put honest words to my thoughts and to pay as little mind to popular opinion or political tactic as possible. I understand that my opinion is contrary to many of those most closely involved in this city’s culture scene, but who in principle would disagree that diverse opinions only have a chance at becoming dialogue (and who doesn't value dialogue?) when they are allowed to butt one against another?"

David Thompson: "In many arts subjects, especially those tethered only loosely to evidence, logic or practical verification, there’s often pressure to avoid the obvious and prosaic, even when the obvious and prosaic is true. The obligation to be unobvious, if only for the benefit of one's academic peers, may help explain the more fanciful assertions from some practitioners of the liberal arts."

Friend of Nicole Soden interviewed.

Advanced fun with acrylic: Lichtenberg figures.




February 11, 2010, 5:26 PM

"Criticality does not a hater make."

Correct, assuming it involves an officially approved target of criticism. You know, like anything even remotely Greenbergian. Otherwise, you're a hater. Sorry. Those who control the game, and their vast hordes of zombie-like followers, get to make the rules.



February 11, 2010, 5:30 PM

However, the "hater" issue is really moot. Whatever deserves hate and/or abuse should get it. If something is inherently hateful, well, it is. I mean, whose fault is that? Not mine, that's for sure.



February 11, 2010, 5:37 PM

As for "Yokelism" and "proudly provincial," it sounds cute and plucky enough, but we're not in Kansas anymore. I don't think it's the best tack to take. People just need to call BS what it is, reject it soundly, deny it or its source any support or respect, stand their ground, accept only what they find acceptable or desirable, and promote and support it as best they can.



February 11, 2010, 6:20 PM

"The first duty of intelligence is recognizing the obvious"



February 11, 2010, 7:01 PM

I'd substitute "sign" for "duty," OP.



February 11, 2010, 7:12 PM

I think Opie was quoting Bannard, who was paraphrasing George Orwell:

"... we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."



February 11, 2010, 8:59 PM

Maybe I'm beating this into the ground, but the first thing "Yokelists" need to do is to recognize, explicitly and overtly, that Almighty NYC is, to a very significant degree, full of shit. In other words, the idea is not to "measure up" to NY, but to do their own thing the very best way they can.



February 11, 2010, 9:04 PM

And Ahab, your lucidity is depressing, as well it should be, given its subject. I can smell the perfumed offal from here, and I'm very far from Alberta. It's practically certain something similar will transpire with the proposed new Miami Art Museum, only worse (and more expensive to boot).



February 11, 2010, 9:47 PM

I know you mean to encourage me, Jack, so thanks.

Artwise, we're in a wasteland up here such that it just has to smell to draw a crowd - for it to smell good is an unthinkable request. Easier by far than a lucid response would be to hold one's nose and rant nasally (which I'm guilty of too). Easiest, though, might be to run away to greener pastures - despite what they say about the other side, some grass simply is.



February 11, 2010, 10:03 PM

I'm curious to know what pastures might be greener than Edmonton's, and I say that partly literally.

I disagree with #3. I think the sheer number of artists is going to make a local career take on new, revitalized form, and render criticism worse than useless. I think we're looking instead at a situation in which various advocacies compete with one another, and the question becomes how to advocate for one's own work and the work of respected peers. And pace #7, condemning New York is still defining yourself in relation to it. Greg's deliberate pride in what goes on here is an effort to compare the place to itself.



February 11, 2010, 10:11 PM

If it's any consolation to you, Ahab, which I doubt, the relative lack of pretentions in Edmonton compared to Miami is presumably worth something. There are painfully eyeless "major" people here who huff, puff and carry on as if they were the most exquisitely sensitive and learned connoisseurs imaginable. It'd be hilarious, if only there were more people intelligent enough to see the obvious.



February 11, 2010, 10:18 PM

I suppose we have a stylistic difference, Franklin, or we differ concerning terminology; at least that's part of it. As for NY, I'm not talking so much about condemning it as about seeing it for what it truly is, and it was Cook who brought it up in the first place, which is why I mentioned it.



February 11, 2010, 10:39 PM

I'm all for seeing things as they truly are. New York remains the place to pursue an ambitious art career - emphasis on "career" - and New England is close enough to it to produce the brain drain that Greg describes. But it has become possible to fruitfully ignore NYC in a way that has never occurred since NYC became the artistic center of the world.

Stylistic differences or otherwise, I have become newly cognizant of the clean slate I've been granted here in Boston, having yet made no enemies (to my knowledge). (Well, maybe one, from commenting on that BRS article.) Upon that slate I intend to draw up a self-sustaining art practice, which entails ignoring art or people that don't serve my work, and gentler, more appreciative consideration of my surroundings. There's a mental health aspect to this as well.



February 11, 2010, 10:55 PM

Franklin, I don't object to what you propose doing in Boston, but the cutesy, cornpone terminology or image Cook espouses is, in my opinion, counterproductive. Whether he intends it or not, it implicitly suggests a kind of inferiority, certainly in status, and potentially in significance or "relevance." My point is the focus should be on real significance art-wise. It's hardly my place to determine how artists conduct their careers, so in that sense what I think about the matter is moot, but let's just say I have "cuteness" issues.



February 11, 2010, 10:59 PM

I would prefer "Localism" to "Yokelism." But I've agreed with everything Greg has had to say about the latter, and I admit that it's more likely to catch on for it's being cuter.

You should have a look at The Cute Manifesto. Interesting stuff from James Kochalka.



February 11, 2010, 11:54 PM

The Orwell quote is new to me, MC. Thanks for the info. Great minds, and all that.



February 12, 2010, 12:21 AM

It was new to me too, Opie, but I figured you wouldn't have put a comment in quotes without actually quoting something, so when I curiously googled it, Bannard and Orwell both came up, the latter in reference to a book by Bertrand Russell... a veritable gang of great minds, there.

Edmonton's scene is green, alright, Franklin. To paraphrase Buddy Guy, it's as green as a pool table, and twice as square. I think the trend will be for cities to emulate the NY model, in that the local yokels everywhere will bleat and Tweet as loud as they can about how GREAT the stuff is in their city, never mind the stuff itself, really, and like always, the reality will be confined to the realists, who are in short supply everywhere. The painfully eyeless will make up for their handicap by using their voices at full volume, drowning out the quiet lookers.

We can call it Cornpone-ism...



February 12, 2010, 1:57 AM

I dare say Miami is at all times literally greener than Edmonton. Romantically, though, hm... the south of France or the plains of Spain? Ecologically, Copenhagen? Metaphorically, probably anyplace I've never been but have looked up in an atlas or heard of on the radio, like Austin. Metaphysically, I'd like to make a little visit to this "now world". Poetically, if between here and Boston was a crooked stile, this crooked man would walk that crooked mile.

BUT, the NESW is a special thing, and one of only two tentpegs sturdy enough to keep my tent from blowing south and east (depending on what counts as a tentpeg).



February 12, 2010, 8:50 AM

You're always welcome. For green, there's nothing quite like the Berkshires. We nearly ended up there ourselves. But I'm not sure what the advantage would be over Edmonton, besides change, which is sometimes necessary.



February 12, 2010, 9:15 AM

How effective it proves remains to be seen, but I still think the "Yokelism" tack smacks of "we know we're minor league, but we're OK with that." I say you attack whatever is fraudulently or unjustifiably big-league, you call it by its real name and reject it as BS, and then you offer the best alternative you can come up with in the most effective manner you can manage. But no, I'm not an artist trying to make a living as one, so obviously that colors my perspective.



February 12, 2010, 10:02 AM

I spent six years attacking the unjustifiably big-league in Miami. The outcome, such as I had anything to do with it, is that art that I supported was getting disregarded to an even greater extent than when I began. You're right, the efficacy of Yokelism remains to be seen, but I am satisfied, empirically, that the attacks are completely ineffective.



February 12, 2010, 10:33 AM

Well, time will tell. The problem, of course, is that the art game is no longer about standards or even art as such, really. It's about fashion, image and various sociopolitical and economic issues, and it appeals to (and depends on) people who are not truly art people but rather using art as a tool or a means to some other end/s besides personal, intimate aesthetics-based interaction. I suppose one may not be able to reach, let alone win over, such people with arguments or considerations they don't care about or understand, because that's simply not why they're "into" art.



February 12, 2010, 12:07 PM

One only wants to reach the reachable. They're out there, too - Bunny, for one, commented on her blog that she left an image of one of my watercolors open in a browser tab for days so she could look at it. I didn't do enough to make it easy for her to ascertain the price of that work and buy it, nor did I approach her on those terms. There are others, too, sophisticated people who love art and gravitate towards older, often foreign artistic productions because they like well-made objects. (You're not the only one, Jack.) There are even curators who put one kind of art in their houses and another in their museums.

The game, that game, is ridiculous, and I could spend the rest of my life railing against it, or I can play a game of my own devising. In reading over some of the modernist art commentary, one occasionally gets the sense that Greenberg or Bannard hoped that art history would come around after a period of reduced standards. The tone of those sentiments is too passive for my taste. I don't think history will correct by itself, nor do I expect the people running the game to accommodate me. So I can either give up, which has occurred to me, or devise a workaround. If attacks would somehow enable that workaround I would launch them more often and more viciously. But at this point I'm pretty certain that they're counterproductive, and to persist in launching them anyway would just be self-indulgent.



February 12, 2010, 1:07 PM

I don't think history will correct by itself ...

No it certainly won't, especially when "history" means "contemporaneous/recent history". But there may be ways to direct it a bit. Herding animals will move in the opposite direction of their handlers if the handler makes them anxious as opposed to outright frightened. A slight intrusion in their personal space combined with movement on the opposite side of where you want the herd to move is how its done these days. Unless the herd is tightly confined and you are protected from it, serious electrical prodding is actually dangerous to the prodder who might be attacked or trampled (anything sound familiar?).

Thus, "vicious attacks" which prod a human herd to move toward a specific goal, no matter how noble the destination, are not effective, especially when the herd is in control of where it can go, as the art system clearly is. In human herds, the outcome vaguely resembles a stampede in which the herd-thinkers accelerate going where they were going in the first place, not where the prodder wants them to go.

Assuming a herd is a good model for what a lot of the art system does, changing its direction requires creating discomfort and anxiety on the side opposite where you want them to wind up. To my observation, the side that needs a good dose of anxiety is the avant-garde side. Rather than attack the bad art that the herd agrees is the latest "great stuff", a few well placed comments to the effect of what does "avant-garde" mean when every art institution accepts, promotes, and enshrines the "avant-garde"? Such "handling" would create anxiety on the vector opposite the desired path of movement without kicking them in the balls. This might cause the system lovers to move away from avant-garde as a mechanism for explaining what they are interested in. That would be a good start for the great cattle drive towards SOMETHING BETTER.

George R often comments that young artists are looking for something better. That is the "forest" he sees that often gets lost when he begins speculating about the composition of the tress that form it, and others take him to the various tasks they advocate, and we all quibble about this and that. My feeling is that there is enough discontent on the floor level of the art glut to work with, but no one is.

The herd is more restless than it appears.

To be continued ...



February 12, 2010, 1:11 PM

Actually, Franklin, my proposed course of action is probably more appropriate and/or reasonable for someone in my position than it is for a working artist, who has different logistics or practical issues to contend with than mine. That's why it makes so much sense to me but not to you, and I can more or less understand that. I personally have no doubt that my approach is right for me, and a big part of the problem is that too many other people in my position won't adopt the same stance. I am not, of course, unique, but I'm very far from being typical, and numbers do make a difference.



February 12, 2010, 3:10 PM

From the EAG blog:

"What the art world needs is a lot more fartists."



February 12, 2010, 3:19 PM

In other words, John, I think a big part of the problem is a largely dysfunctional herd, not simply how or by whom it's being prodded. I'm not saying better shepherding wouldn't help, but one simply can't get blood from turnips, if you get my drift. As I've alluded to already, a very significant number of the sheep are not true art people and never will be, no matter how they're handled.


Chris Rywalt

February 12, 2010, 4:09 PM

Are we herding turnips now?



February 12, 2010, 4:19 PM

Sorry for the mixed metaphors, Chris. I should have known you'd have issues with that. You pretty much always do. It's probably related to your hirsutism. You know, some sort of endocrine imbalance.


Chris Rywalt

February 12, 2010, 4:25 PM

My endocrines aren't imbalanced, they're all over the center ring in bits and pieces.

I don't have a problem with herding turnips. Seems like a job I could handle. Better than stacking beets.

But if the turnips keep drifting, we're going to need a bigger boat for the herding, and Bob's your uncle.



February 12, 2010, 5:32 PM

There has been a "herd" associated with art for at least 500 years. This situation will most likely continue for another 500 years or more.

So ... if it is not going away, perhaps we ought to deal with it. Franklin's reluctance to pound it in the gonads is a good attitude for starters. What I'm suggesting is thinking about effective ways to move it in a direction more compatible with our purposes.

If art people do the right thing for the wrong reasons, that may be as good as it will ever get. Regardless, any movement toward the right thing is positive.



February 12, 2010, 6:26 PM

What I'm suggesting is thinking about effective ways to move it in a direction more compatible with our purposes.

I like that herding analogy - provide a greener pasture, and then introduce anxiety opposite the desired direction. I was going to make it Monday's post, but I guess I'll spill the beans: I'm delivering a talk at Winkleman Gallery as part of the #class project by Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida. It's called "Conceptualism for Sale: How the Art World Uses Low Standards for Fun and Profit." Part of the reason I got invited to do this is that last year I had a horrendous exchange with Winkleman, and realized I had just wasted his time and my time and had accomplished nothing on behalf of better art. It was puerile. So I started thinking about how to be persuasive instead of cockpunching every available target at EW's blog, and now I'm seen as a reasonable party with a different viewpoint instead of a raving loon. It's too easy and too safe to talk smack at them from here at I already know, emprically, again, that I can do it all day. Changing somebody's mind who has no reason to agree with you is a harder and worthier challenge.



February 12, 2010, 6:49 PM

So what is this #class thing? Some sort of conference? What's the idea behind it, or the ostensible purpose of it?



February 12, 2010, 6:52 PM

Oh, and Franklin, wear a fez.


George R

February 12, 2010, 6:59 PM

John(24): I never said that young artists are looking for something better. Since the market collapse, they now sense that the pressure for continuity with recent art has been been broken and that it is time for a change.

Criticism is comatose and there are no theories which currently seem to matter. The activity among young artists is disorderly as they try new things and see if anyone is interested. What will become the new-art is the art which strikes a chord with the culture. At this juncture I don't think anyone knows what that is.

There is reasonably good evidence that negative criticism (of recent art) placates readers with similar feelings but fails to generate the kind of interest and enthusiasm associated with the development of new artistic directions. In a similar fashion, attempts to outline (theorize) a new direction will fail. In both of these cases the critic assumes they know what the culture will respond to, what the culture wants. I don't think this is currently the case.

What I think will occur is that by chance, the culture (art world) will see some new-art which resonates with them enough to create some excitement and interest. This has to happen first, then the critical community can wrap words around it.

I don't think 'herd behavior' is really an issue, it's part of social psychology but occurs after something effective starts movement in a direction. At this juncture, with the art world essentially directionless and it is the artists and artworks which resonate with the culture are what will cause art to move in a new direction.



February 12, 2010, 10:25 PM

Hey George, I don't see enough difference between "they now sense that the pressure for continuity with recent art has been been broken and that it is time for a change" and "young artists are looking for something better" to argue about it. Therefore I will embrace your way of putting it and leave it at that.

As far as "something effective starts movement in a direction", I couldn't agree more.

"Theory", however, makes a difference to many members of the art world. So discussing it offers opportunities for moving things towards better art. The "better art", of course, must be somewhere in the first place to be moved toward.

Where it is or might be is a different question altogether.


Chris Rywalt

February 12, 2010, 10:32 PM

Dalton is a Conceptualist. The last show I saw of hers consisted largely of a PowerPoint presentation on gender bias in Chelsea art galleries. Also there was a bin of rubber bracelets for every visitor to choose to wear, one set labeled PIG and one labeled LOSER.

Naturally, considering the show was about prejudice and preconceptions, neither the PIG nor the LOSER bracelets were large enough to fit me, a large male. I was excluded from the Concept, apparently, by dint of being big & tall (mostly, admittedly, big).

The show was pretty fucking terrible, a perfect example of the complete waste of time most Conceptual so-called art turns out to be. Musing on stupid, shallow ideas in the most boring way possible, like an endless college lecture for the congenitally ignorant.

Powhida is one of the art world's beards, a guy who appears to be satirizing and poking fun at the pomposity of the art world glitterati and power brokers, but who in fact is about as mordant as an imbecile hunchback. The art world can keep him around because it's actually quite flattering and reinforcing to find oneself in his cartoons: It's proof that what you do matters to people, even in a negative sense, and it's never too ugly.

Also, in the world of portrait artists or caricaturists, Powhida has zero talent. Outside of the art world his work simply makes no sense at all.

You can tell by the fact that "#class" has the hash mark at the front that it's oh-so-hip and on the cutting edge because that's a Twitter thing. It's the designation for a topic and called a hashtag. Five years from now no one will know what the fuck they were talking about.

Franklin: Cockpunching?


Chris Rywalt

February 12, 2010, 10:53 PM

If you want to read my original review of Dalton's show, you can see it here. Curiously, even though that was four years ago, I used some of the same words from memory just now.



February 12, 2010, 11:12 PM

Thanks, Chris, for more or less confirming my, uh, preconceptions (which are perfectly valid things if they are essentially accurate). I don't know how Franklin is meant to fit into this, except, perhaps, as a supposed verbal equivalent to Powhida or some sort of court jester analog (though what he winds up making of the gig is potentially a different matter).



February 12, 2010, 11:26 PM

Oh, and as for the bracelet thing, I don't think so. I mean, please.


Chris Rywalt

February 12, 2010, 11:28 PM

I just skimmed the list and I can't even imagine what Franklin hopes to achieve, aside from making himself look bad by association. There are so many damn things on that list. And, seriously, who wants to be on the same Web page as Man Bartlett? Did I see #kitchensink go by? "Artists will be asked to submit a digital image of one piece of art to be reviewed by Mr. Winkleman for at least 10 seconds, TWICE the average time museum goers spend viewing a piece of art."?! A "Feminist Tea Party"?!

I think I'm going to be sick.

I'll come to see you, Franklin, but good lord.


George R

February 12, 2010, 11:34 PM

John (36), Specifically, I spoke with a number of Hunter and SVA graduate students in the last year. The general consensus is that since the crash the burden of expectations was lifted from their shoulders. As a result I think they felt freer and their work seemed more relaxed. These kids were already in school when the crash occurred and I don't think their approach has changed all that much. That will come later after they graduate.

Theory comes after the art is made. Right now it's dead in the water and what's still moving is part of the old cycle on its way out. It therefor is of no use in defining what occurs going forward. Whatever is occurring must initially connect with the artworld and then the greater culture.

In 1961 William Seitz curated "The Art of Assemblage" at MOMA. It was supposed to be the beginning of a new trend. But in spite of an exhaustive curatorial effort "Assemblage" failed to get traction in the culture paving the way for POP art. Why some things work and some don't is difficult to speculate about but in the postwar period maybe "shiny" just looked better than 'junk.' Streamline Era vs. Depression Era.

I think something like that is happening now (see Roberta's "Bad Boys" review in the NYT) What would have worked in the culture a couple of years ago is now being questioned. To me this indicates that the zeitgeist is actively looking for something new. A new-art which will resonate with todays culture. Then the critical community will be able to theorize and criticize to their hearts content.



February 13, 2010, 12:38 AM

I had a good time in Edmonton, and saw work there which compared very respectably with what I see in New York. Not all of it, of course, but then I have to go a long way before I see a show that I like in New York, too. At the moment, the one that I like best is at Sideshow in Williamsburg, but it's only on through Feb. 20. A lot of good people in that show (along with a lot of less good ones). I recommend it to anybody who is able to get to it.

As to herding the public, I prefer the carrot over the stick. Just keep on pointing to what's good, as long as it's there to point to. Obviously, one wants to dump on the bad, too, but no serious critic is ever remembered for the art s/he dumped on. S/he's
remembered for the good artists discovered before everybody else climbed on the bandwagon. If Greenberg hadn't discovered
Pollock & most of the rest of first generation ab-ex back in the 1940s, nobody would care a hoot for his opinions on Duchamp -- or Olitski.



February 13, 2010, 12:42 AM

Maybe I should qualify that statement about Greenberg. Instead of "nobody would care a hoot" I should have said "only a few people would care a hoot.."



February 13, 2010, 8:08 AM

I can't even imagine what Franklin hopes to achieve, aside from making himself look bad by association.

This was a point of discussion with Jen when they invited me to speak on a panel of conceptualist detractors. I pointed out that there was a sad irony at work, that the conceptualist position was so entrenched that it could suffer any number of detractors to come forward and denounce them without having any effect on their standing in the art world, and I didn't want to be used to illustrate that. Instead I asked for my own time slot to make a point about conceptualism as a market-driven phenomenon, which was in better keeping with the theme of the project and might have a chance of winning some agreement. Again, the object is to try to change the minds of people who have no reason to agree with you.



February 13, 2010, 8:57 AM

So what is the theme or point of the project?


Chris Rywalt

February 13, 2010, 9:19 AM

Again, the object is to try to change the minds of people who have no reason to agree with you.

Perhaps that's where we differ. I've given up on the idea of ever changing anyone's mind about anything. I don't believe it can be done. I'm not sure people ever really change their minds, and if they do, I certainly don't think it's due to outside influences, at least not directly. The very best one could possibly hope for, I believe, is that you're one of the many, many tiny little nudges that slightly alters the mind of someone who was changing anyway.

It's not as if, after your talk, Dalton is going to start painting Bible stories or Powhida is going to turn into Mort Drucker. If either of those things were going to happen, they would've happened already.



February 13, 2010, 10:25 AM

I'm with Chris. People barely make up their own minds: they tend to gravitate to what they already agree with, and will listen to reason only if they are already open to it. So, it all depends on what one wants to do with their time.

If you want to change the world of ideas, then you have to use the language of ideas (words), and as the saying goes, persuasion is better than force, or you get more flies with honey, etc. (keeping in mind, at best, you end up with a lot of flies).

If you enjoy seeing people get hit in the balls (it's always funny when it's not you... just watch AFV), and you enjoy delivering such cockpunishing blows, then have at 'er, I say. I get a kick out of that sort of thing, myself, but I'm a Christopher Hitchens fan.

On the other hand, you can be in the studio, neither convincing or cock-knocking, but instead, perfecting the next delicious pastry for you and your kind to enjoy.

If it feels good, do it.



February 13, 2010, 10:35 AM

For instance, you could organize an artists' soap-box derby...


Chris Rywalt

February 13, 2010, 11:15 AM

Validation! That's the word I was looking for! Dammit. I got totally stuck on a word for the sentence "'s actually quite flattering and reinforcing to find oneself in his cartoons" and couldn't get the right word even with some dictionary and thesaurus effort. I ended up using "reinforcing" which wasn't right. The word I was looking for was "validating". Validation!


Chris Rywalt

February 13, 2010, 11:17 AM

And, actually, the article in which I found that word has a sentence that applies here, too: "As any media-studies grad student can tell you, the society of the spectacle loves nothing more than this kind of pseudo-rebellion, which only validates the meaning and importance of the spectacle itself."


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 6:22 PM

The new-art that connects with the art world and culture may not be something to look forward to, given the state of the art world and culture - a state that isn't any different from what it's been, in terms of taste, for the last half-century.



February 13, 2010, 6:58 PM

The popular culture, in the case of the USA, is another way of saying 'entertainment.' There are many things happening outside of that. So, though I agree with the sentiment of Tom's #52, there's no use in dwelling upon the level of culture which is always en passant.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 7:36 PM

Tim, I wasn't thinking of dwelling on the state of popular culture. That's not where the problem for fine art is located.



February 13, 2010, 7:50 PM

Tom, OK, where is the problem located? Because, in the USA, the popular culture has overtaken everything. So it's all passing.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 8:01 PM

Tim, I agree with your last point. The problem is the loss of nerve among the taste-makers, who loathe the very idea of high standards, i.e., the idea that excellence was achieved in the past, and that excellence ought to be the starting point for present judgments.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 8:03 PM

I should have said "that same excellence ought be the starting point."



February 13, 2010, 8:14 PM

The deal is that the ones who want to do it at the start of something get the air time from promoters. Like Rock n rollers. The guys looking for something saw them. They ran them. Everybody made it. It ran its course.

Now what? Or is there a different deal? Professors judging shows? Hmmm....


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 8:26 PM

Tim, you lost me. I don't follow.



February 13, 2010, 8:34 PM

Where should the new-art follow? What we have here is he popular culture. But I think there is an underground, very weak but very engaged.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 8:45 PM

Where indeed? Culture is continuity, and when continuity is broken, culture is ruined. Hence the need for the Renaissance, and Modernism. (In both cases, something had been lost, which needed to be recovered.) An underground? It's not impossible we're already into another Dark Ages. I'm thinking of Morris Berman's books, The Twilight of American Culture and Dark Ages America. Berman thinks all that can be done is what the monastics did last time around: preserve and continue the excellence of the past, in little pockets here and there.



February 13, 2010, 8:55 PM

It works out. How lucky we are to have the time. My attitude is completely positive, largely because I know what I'm doing! Ha! I have the backdrop of history.



February 13, 2010, 8:59 PM

There are no taste-makers. There are people with lousy or no taste who are perfectly willing to "validate" the invalid and other people with lousy or no taste. It's a matter of "I'm OK; you're OK; everyone and everything's OK as long as it's not a serious challenge or a real threat." There are, of course, political and social issues also at play, as well as plenty of financial maneuvering and opportunistic jockeying for position or career advancement. Corruption and perversion, after all, beget more of the same.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 9:03 PM

Jack, okay - there are people who occupy the same positions as the taste-makers of the past.



February 13, 2010, 9:14 PM

Well o well, but now its a serious challenge, so time to get down to cases. And the art will do that for those who can see and let it be known.



February 13, 2010, 9:26 PM

What I was really getting at, Tom, is that taste, real taste, is now not only suspect but maligned, marginalized and effectively bypassed, as if it's at best beside the point. The in-crowd, real or wannabe, has supposedly evolved or progressed beyond "mere taste." This is, of course, exceedingly convenient and highly practical, conditions being what they are. It is, in fact, necessary, if one wants to be a player in the art game according to the current rules.



February 13, 2010, 9:34 PM

I've actually come across people who deliberately refuse to call even art they like good, because they feel it's wrong or inappropriate to make that sort of value judgment. It's like the fear of making a mistake carried to the point of impotence or paralysis. Naturally, these people feel superior to those who are "judgmental," "haters" or what not. It's like a very bad joke, but they're apparently serious.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 9:40 PM

Taste is the exercise of power by one group over another, and this is grounds enough for dismissing it. Or so the argument goes.



February 13, 2010, 9:45 PM

Taste is getting it after passing through all the personal preferences.



February 13, 2010, 9:50 PM

Taste is the very fine and lovely spanking you get after Saturday night.



February 13, 2010, 9:51 PM

Taste is the exercise of one's senses, intelligence, experience and understanding to make up one's mind about the worth or value of something, in this case art. Those who are insecure about their ability to judge properly and/or about their own worth are threatened by the whole concept of taste and may concoct ways to discredit or evade it. It's entirely predictable and, in a way, logical.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 9:51 PM

Jack, I'm not so sure it's fear of making a mistake as it is fear of severing one's self from the group. Fear of making a mistake requires there first be a recognition of a right way and a wrong way in something.



February 13, 2010, 10:00 PM

We wake up. We look at everything. We use art to make some kind of sense of it.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 10:03 PM

Tim, I think that puts more on art than it can provide. Being beautiful is enough.



February 13, 2010, 10:09 PM

Yes, there's great fear of being out-of-it, excluded, ignored, etc. as a result of going for the "wrong" thing/s or failing to back the "right" one/s. The fear of choosing improperly is clearly related to the fear of the consequences in terms of one's standing relative to the group, the group that matters to the person in question. The person may well not really care about right vs. wrong in absolute terms, but rather about what the group does and does not accept and either requires or penalizes.


Tom Hering

February 13, 2010, 10:16 PM

Or what the group ignores. To start paying attention to such is to lose credibility.



February 13, 2010, 10:18 PM

Jack, there's great fear of being out of what? Relative to one's group? Is this high school? But I know what you're saying.



February 13, 2010, 11:02 PM

Out-of-it, Tim, as in not with-it, not trendy, not hip, not cool, not in step with the times and so forth. The in-crowd is terrified of being out of the loop, the loop of the "right" people.



February 13, 2010, 11:30 PM

A wella, that's their prob.



February 14, 2010, 9:19 PM

A Rembrandt etching, about 6 x 4 inches:

The Raising of Lazarus (click image to enlarge as needed)



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