« That Suppurating Tumor | Main | Patriarchy in Niger »

August 18, 2005


Professor Froward

"RB: They started it."

Oh, well, since you put it that way, Bob, I guess you really ARE smarter than me.

Paglia's wrong too, though. In the US, at least, "Serious Artists" parted ways with the public a long time before the late '80s, and that's when normal people started thinking of "art and the artist as a scam". When somebody says "you're not smart enough to understand this, but trust me, it's meaningful", and what he's selling you looks like crap, the last thing you do is trust him. If science didn't lend itself to concrete applications that verifiably work, we be telling them to pull the other one, too. Heck, creationists and a lot of new-age dingbats are telling them that anyway.

Mick H

Well yes, but before the 70s/80s there was a genuine sense in which art was for an elite - I mean right through from Picasso up to Jackson Pollock - and people who didn't "get it" were on the whole quite happy to leave it to the experts, and let their tastes be guided. And in a sense they were right, because what was avant-garde became accepted, and there was a process of education going on. Maybe Pollock marked the start of the change, but by the time of Warhol people were less and less inclined to be lectured at and patronised. As Paglia says, there's no avant-garde now, because deep down they're just not serious, in the way Pollock or Rothko were serious. All they've got left is this spurious notion of being subversive, ie of "getting a rise out of the Catholic League".


Interesting that she felt the need to mention her atheism twice in this short segment.


It's interesting that the art she is talking about is the big expensive stuff that requires a rich patron to exist. In literature it is book sales to thousands of readers that decide what survives and doesn't. In painting or sculpture of crucifixes in jars of urine, it is institutions that make that decision. In the past it was some rich, vulgar de Medici trying to prove he was as good as any aristocrat, or some industrialist, and now it is museums or whatever. That skews artists in those fields away from large audiences.

The comments to this entry are closed.