ARTICLE: Post-Postmodern Art

Snow Shovel

Marcel Duchamp: “Snow Shovel” for a snow job

ARTICLE: Post-Postmodern Art  Key quote from the article, and words to live by: “Duchamp and the others have become the iconic figures of recent art history. Through them, the story of the art world is a story of self-conscious disintegration. Once, however, everything has been disintegrated, every artist has a choice. He can choose to play the current game of cynicism and despair, hoping, at best, to introduce a minor variation here and there. Or he can look afresh at the world and rediscover in it the potential that earlier great artists pointed us toward.”

The savvy can already see the inevitable collapse of the current establishment art system, which was built up over a relatively recent time frame. It exists as a fragile bubble, kept inflated by its own hot air hype and wildly reckless speculation by well-moneyed but clueless dupes.

The vapid circus the elitists favor can only exist as a monopoly. Create a viable alternative, and watch the stampede for the exits, away from the banal trash the cultural institutions have been inflicting  on an increasingly alienated and disengaged populace for decades.

Question the assumptions that drive the power brokers. Today’s stellar careers, reputations, and investments will be tomorrow’s obscure footnotes, wiped out by the merciless but objective judgment of ever progressing time.

The current art world echo chamber is crumbling.  Lots of what gets made these days and presented as art cannot survive outside of the shrinking cultural institutional enclave. However, this is not the end of art, it’s the end of an adminstrative model that has failed to perform. It is being out-evolved.

This is not a cause for fear, it’s a cause for celebration. We are taking part in a major periodic shift of consciousness: exciting times. Remodernism, which recognizes art as an inclusive, spiritual, DIY activity, provides one path forward. Doubtless there are others. But art is about to take an incredible leap forward, and reengage with society in a way it hasn’t in decades.

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12 thoughts on “ARTICLE: Post-Postmodern Art

  1. I’d say art is in mid-incredible-leap in concert with the accessibility explosion afforded by the Internet. The artist doesn’t have to what-if about the work being viewable and evaluable by anyone who cares to see it — quoth John Milton, “Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?” So be true as ever, sir Richard, and True Art will prevail.

  2. Hadn’t seen that article by Steven Hicks before, and rather enjoyed it, but also have to admit that I’m not sure how much enthusiasm I can whip up for the likes of Sargent (and his portraits of the wealthy), or Remington (cowboy/Western art). I tend to think of doing traditional, image-based, visual art not as a leap forward so much as a re-centering, and stepping back from the frivolous fringes of shallow and hollow attempts at novelty (that are really transparent attempts at a marketable gimmick). I don’t mind Duchamp’s props and stunts in the proper context, as minor curiosities and footnotes to art history. I get annoyed when such trivia is held as trouncing all other art in the flick of a finger. I don’t want to fall into the same trap that the fringe, neo-avant-garde does, of overarching dismissal of the other end of the spectrum. I propose that conceptual art be seen as a very different enterprise than visual, image-based art, in which case it has it’s own contributions to make, and its own criteria. One may not care for it. I’m not a huge fan of Jazz or Cumbia, but I am made about Qawwali, anything with a gamelan, and prefer Cuban varieties of Jazz. The problem comes when conceptual art is seen as evolving from, displacing, and replacing visual art and visual language, which in reality much of it has little or nothing to do with. In other words, my world has room for Yoko Ono, but I don’t think she’s better than the Beatles. If I had to choose one, I’d take the Beatles. But if I don’t have to choose, I’ll keep both, and Ono for me is a minor curiosity.

  3. It’s true that the internet has been a huge asset in bypassing the establishment filters. Which is why at this very moment the wannabe tyrants have released a 332 page plan of how they are going to put a stop to this source of freedom.

  4. I think it’s framed that way by the “anti-art” crowd as well, and Duchamp claimed to want to eradicate painting. It’s a strange objective, because along with visual language, they want to get rid of the beautiful and sensual in art, which is about as appealing as getting rid of the delicious in food. And when I was in art college, I was not allowed to try to make meaningful visual art using visual language. However, if someone wants to do something creative that is outside of established art forms, I have no problem with that. For example, here is a conceptual art piece by Chris Burden. It’s not “anti-art”, it’s just another kind of art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqSkRgySAEg

    I’m not going to say it’s not creative, or that anything I do with paint is inherently more creative or artistic. Or how about Roxy Paine, who has done a wide range of work, including creating a machine that makes sculptures on a conveyer belt? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiVw8crgfB4

    I don’t think anyone can deny that this stuff is interesting, creative, and fun. So, by me, some conceptual art can be quite good. The problem is judging image making by the same standards, or the reverse.

    I don’t want to be the enemy of Burden and Paine. Do you?

  5. “Remodernism, which recognizes art as an inclusive, spiritual, DIY activity, provides one path forward.”

    I’m reminded of Andrew Nelson Lytle’s call to arms: “Throw out the radio and take down the fiddle from the wall.” By that, he meant that art, entertainment, and companionship are not mutually exclusive. Art should be a social affair that engages each participant and leads all toward beauty and hope.

  6. “This is not a cause for fear, it’s a cause for celebration.” Yes, in spirit. No, under the present paradigm. I really admire what you’re doing in Phoenix. It seem that there is community there, to exchange ideas. The intimate shows, even sharing among usual suspects is much much better than an Internet notoriety. I have shows in my tiny town, and they are uplifting temporarily. Here, take this:

    “…simply moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world’s champions…. A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tap-dances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an “exhibitionist.” How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning, “Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”

    -Kurt Vonnegut from “Bluebeard”

    After every show I feel like Fred Astaire lying face down on the coffee table.
    I agree that “Remodernism, which recognizes art as an inclusive, spiritual, DIY activity, provides one path forward”. However, that “art is about to take an incredible leap forward, and reengage with society in a way it hasn’t in decades”, I don’t see very clearly. I see too many smartphones glued to ears. The world’s champions are a click away, a sound or visual bite, a thumb’s up, never down, and everyone back to Netflix at night.

    For me, painting is becoming more often a spiritual exercise, a colorful hair shirt to show to the mirror.

    Any ideas? Are we all to caravan like gypsies in summer?

  7. One is a toy maker which is neato and doesn’t really show anything of the essence of the individual who created it, As fun as it is it’s like a hobby on a grand scale. The other blob making machine I don’t see as particularly interesting or creative. The elites have tried to manipulate our whole culture into becoming machines spitting out pointless blobs so no need for another one. Sorry, these fall short for me as art, one is cool and the other is trite, but neither resonate in that deep place within. We’ve had a bellyful of machines, we need humanity again.

  8. Best I can say is, those who have eyes will see. What the world calls the champions these days are naked emperors that only are allowed to believe in their own illusionary finery because those who see the exposed asses have allowed themselves to be cowed in to silence. Be silent no more. You’re doing your part, I see your show announcements and writings, just by showing up like this your change the dynamic. World champions? Hardly. They are pathetic jokes propped by a corrupt cronyism. Never let them forget it. We are the barbarians at their gate, and the end of their world is nigh. I do want to see a gathering of forces, these things take time to build, but building is what we are doing right now.

  9. Hi Richard:

    I’m a little hesitant to share some of my ideas, because I don’t want to seem contentious, adversarial, or like I’m trying to undermine you. But I think you are probably open to a friendly exchange of ideas about art. I, for one, don’t have fixed conclusions, and think there’s always more digging to do. I may very well be wrong. But here’s where my thinking is on the topic right now, and I’m in the middle of writing articles on this subject, and my thinking is still evolving.

    Both of these artists have a very wide range of work. Chris Burden is famous for his performances in the 70’s, including one where he had himself shot in the arm, and another where he had himself crucified to a Volkswagon. He has a piece where he used a crane to drop steel girders into a pit of cement, which is quite impressive (though it could easily be seen as a scultpure): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBeU-JmEvFE

    Roxy Paine has made painstakingly carved wooden replicas of complex machinery, and an entire airport security station. He’s meticulously painted realistic sculptures of groups of hundreds of mushrooms: http://www.roxypaine.com/fields/ He also makes drawings: http://www.roxypaine.com/drawings/
    It is very difficult to pigeonhole either of these artists.

    But I’m guessing you might not like any of their work, or any work of any conceptual artist, or non-traditional artist. That becomes a stance, and an interesting one. While we don’t think of musical styles as necessarily opposing one another, conceptual art and painting are polarized into hostile camps. This is something I’ve been thinking and writing about a lot lately.

    Honestly, I think if I came across either of the pieces I shared with you by Burden and Paine, as a kid, I would have loved them. But there is some point when I might have rejected them as you do, and I think it would have been when I felt I was being dismissed as a painter, and anything I did was automatically considered irrelevant and inferior to anything done outside of traditional mediums. I have years of painful lived experience of this in college. In fact I had to give up painting in college in order to survive.

    But is the response to err anything anyone else does that is not painting or traditional art is irrelevant and inferior? What if you didn’t have access to paints and canvases…, and needed a creative outlet?

    Imagine you are on a hike and unexpectedly come across a piece by Andy Goldsworthy. What would your reaction be? Would you dismiss it as soulless art or enjoy it’s creativity? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_opAMkK95gE

    Anyway, I’m very interested in why people hate conceptual art, and I’ve certainly criticized Koons and Hirst about as vociferously as anyone. But I’m realizing now that it’s not their work that really bothers me, but how it is privileged over visual-art/image-making, because my first love in art is image making, and it’s what I’m doing now.

    What I really hate isn’t the artists or their work, but the paradigm that says painting (and image making) is dead. I want to attack that paradigm, dissect it, and remove it like a cancer. And while Hirst can sell 1 of his 1,400 dot paintings, painted by an assistant, for $3.4 million, and I can’t sell anything for $3.4, I don’t hate the dot painting. I hate how overrated it is, but as a work of art, if I were able to completely disassociate it from the hype and context, I’d merely find it innocuous.

    Same with Warhol. I hate his work AS the best work of the 20th century. But as a creative enterprise exploring a certain range of ideas and methods, which don’t really interest me, I find his work mildly appealing. It is amusing to see someone paint all the varieties of Campbell’s soups. But that is not where my heart is at. And, like you, I don’t think it deals with the human perdicament, the deep questions, or says anaything personal.

    Now back to work on art.

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