The American attorney and art collector John Quinn (April 14, 1870 – July 28, 1924) had a great insight about the avant-garde works he supported in the early decades of the twentieth century. He described his times as “an age of experiment rather than accomplishment.”
Quinn was describing the rise of Modern art. As early as the late 1700s, it was clear Classical art, reiterations of the ancient achievements of the Greeks, Romans, and Renaissance, did not adequately reflect the temper of the times. But what could? Modern artists bravely tried to find out.
It’s the nature of honest experimentation that failure is more common than success. In science a theory is proposed, tests are conducted, and the results are measured and analyzed, compared to the predicted outcome. But how can novel artistic experiences be rated?
Perhaps there is a fundamental test for art. Ultimately, art is a form of spiritual communication. Does the art deliver a sense of communion, connection, the eternal fellowship of humanity in a recognizable form? That would be successful art.
Much of Modern art’s attempts failed to reach those standards. Yet extreme experiments persisted, even as the appreciation dwindled. Like Spinal Tap, Modern art’s appeal became more selective. For some powerful people, that fulfilled an important non-artistic need: a new means for status signaling.
Cy Twombly, Leda and the Swan
Sold for $52 million in 2017
Any old sap could like skillfully created, beautiful, and meaningful art. Elitists had to flip the script, and make embracing the failed experiments, the ugly and obscure, the new standard of rarified taste. The establishment cultivated a culture war to preserve their isolating Mandarin authority.
We are all the poorer for it. For over a century now institutional support has been funneled into art meant not to unite, but to divide. Museums, galleries, and wealthy patrons warped the course of artistic evolution towards alienation, transgression, and incompetence, all the better to shock the bourgeois they despised. One hundred plus years of inverted snobbery was inflicted upon us. We’ll never know what might have been, what aesthetic glories the land of the free could have produced, without that interference.
This Is What The Gentry Class Fills Our Museums With. Sad!
It’s even worse now, in the Postmodern era. As I scan the art world’s official organs, I see nothing but partisan propaganda, leftist activism misidentified as art. These feeble efforts are deader than Lenin in his glass coffin, but all those who aspire to belong to the ruling caste must shuffle past and pay homage.
One of Postmodern Art Star Banksy’s Half Assed Editorial Cartoons Masquerading as Art
Those who we trusted as the caretakers of our culture betrayed us. We’ve had no support for art that reflects the true character of the United States, our might, goodness, and freedom. But the times are changing, and art can lead the way.
Cultural thought leaders look stupid propping up the absurdity they’ve made into the status quo. They’ve got no creditability left to squander. Their institutions are beyond reform. It’s time to start over. It’s a good place to be, because an American’s natural habitat is the frontier.
Remodernism is the latest iteration of the American character: ordinary people working as explorers and inventors, optimistic, self-reliant and productive. The Remodernist artist formulates expressions of personal liberty in pursuit of higher meaning and significance. Remodernism is the pursuit of excellence. We don’t grovel before the current cultural gatekeepers, we want to interact with everyone. We are story tellers. We make a complex art for complex times. We are the swing of the pendulum.
The “art as experiment” analogy really isn’t quite satisfactory, because art is not like science, and conflating the two has been disastrous for our society. Elitists defensively over-intellectualized art, which is most effective as a visceral, soulful experience.
Billy Childish, an English artist who first codified Remodernism with painter Charles Thomson in 1999, described a hands-on strategy for the way forward. “The idea is painting, not having ideas about painting…In many ways I sort of like to look on myself as amateur in everything I do. The amateur does things for love, and belief, not for the mortgage.”
That’s the spirit. Look at what “amateur” politician Donald Trump achieved. He put the experts to shame – or rather, he exposed they were lying about their true goals and intentions.
Just like in our politics, no solutions for art’s crisis of relevance will come out of the corrupted hierarchies of the current professional classes. Fortunately, we don’t need anyone’s permission to create a faithful depiction of who we truly are, in art and politics both. Let’s get on with it.
I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy abook. Or a painting.
Despite the ongoing pandemic psyop and hysteria which requires us to cover our faces, this is actually the era of the Great Unmasking. Our Postmodern credentialed classes have been exposed; their corruption, hypocrisy, and ulterior motives are on full display. Now as their monopoly on power and mass communications are being challenged as never before, many elites are openly siding with a cause they feel is the source of their authority. They want to redefine Satanism as the hip philosophy for the Twenty-first century.
Looking at the oppression, suffering, and destruction the Left has caused whenever they gain control, it’s not like it’s any secret they are a force for evil. Hillary Clinton’s mentor, Saul Alinksy, was an early adopter of this establishment trend. On his dedication page for Rules for Radicals, his 1971 destruction of Western Civilization how-to book, Alinsky wrote:
“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins —or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”
Better to rule in Hell, right Saul? What a shame he seemed to gloss over another quote on the very same page:
“Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul….”
– Thomas Paine
Paine identifies it: to be a devil is to be miserable. So why go there? Best I can figure it, what is happening here is people who are already miserable are drawn to Leftist activism. It gives them license to try to make others as unhappy as they are.
Something is happening in the culture though, very much against the plans and preferences of the SJWs. Their monolithic totalitarians schemes are fading, as people actually dare to disagree with progressive priorities. So the hacktivists are reacting with all the stability and foresight that is always the hallmark of the Left: They are calling on Satan to save them. Numerous news stories have demonstrated the subsequent apparatchik acknowledgement of allegiance with the powers of darkness.
Hyperallergenic is an online “arts” magazine, which like most of the culture industries these days, performs a bait-and-switch, and presents Marxist proselytizing in place of creativity. In September 2020, they vomited out this little thinkpiece like Linda Blair spewed pea soup: The Story Behind a Misunderstood Satanic Monument:
“Satanic Panic” never really ended; it just fell out of fashion in mainstream media. With the rise of QAnon in Trump’s America, however, Satanism has received renewed interest across the conservative media spectrum. When the Black Lives Matter protests started bringing down Confederate memorials in June, far-right publications and organizations like The Washington Times and Turning Point USA called for the destruction of the Satanic Temple’s bronze statue of Baphomet, its patron deity with the head of a goat and angel wings.
These attempted takedowns betray long-held Republican beliefs in freedom of religion and respect of private property, leading Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves to denounce their legal and spiritual corruption. In an open letter posted on his Patreon, Greaves critiqued the false equivalence between Confederate monuments and the Baphomet statue, arguing that Satanists pose no real threat to religious freedom, and that Baphomet does not even currently stand on public property. (The statue is currently housed in the Temple’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts.)
“You can really learn about people’s cultural baggage by seeing how they react to the Baphomet monument,” Greaves told Hyperallergic. “It’s interesting to think this debate could merely be about what’s offensive to some type of individual, and that there is nothing qualitatively different about the Baphomet statue — which is openly symbolic of pluralism, diversity, and nonbinary identity.” (The Satanic Temple does not believe in the existence of Satan, nor does it worship the occult.)
Oh it’s a misunderstanding. A “temple” featuring a grotesque idol of a patron deity isn’t occult or religious, you rubes. Nor should it be compared to the real evil: historical tributes to Democrats who caused a civil war to trying to preserve their entitlement to own other human beings. No, you see, Satan is the good guy in Postmodern globalism. As the article continues:
Greaves and sculptor Mark Porter intentionally designed its calm and stoic facial expression to reflect the Temple’s non-violent mission and political status.
“People do not automatically think of Satanism as this murderous force anymore,” Greaves said. “There has been a perceptual shift in which people are able to embrace images that may have previously seemed untouchable and blasphemous. As much as this is a religious and cultural movement, it is also an art movement, and it all ties together.”
Much like the GOP’s fear-mongering around socialism, this new wave of Satanic Panic is a form of projection. What many Christians really fear is opposition to their notions of religious dominance, in both theory and practice. The Satanic Temple’s core principles include peaceful protest, adherence to science, body autonomy, and empathy toward all living beings. Many of its local chapters perform rituals from a non-superstitious, non-supernatural perspective while actively serving and beautifying their communities. They lead cleanup efforts for parks and beaches, hold sock and clothing drives for homeless communities, and distribute menstrual hygiene products for those without access. The Baphomet statue is the embodiment of this new paradigm, representing the only organization of its kind to gain political leverage in recent history.
Conservative reactionaries have always needed a scapegoat to blame for vice and deviance, and the Baphomet monument fills that role. In reality, though, Satanists are helping to debunk pseudoscience and organize against a theocratic status quo. It is no wonder, therefore, that far-right internet trolls want to portray Satanists as cannibals working for the deep state. Grieves views Baphomet as an entry point into the Temple’s efforts to mitigate religious racism and combat white supremacy throughout the country.(emphasis mine)
Please. The only theocratic status quo with any clout these days is the Authoritarian State as Religion, the creed of progressives everywhere.
Hillary Clinton herself, a woman of wealth and taste, recently signaled in a sly artistic reference she still is following in her mentor’s footsteps. Whether you want to assign the mentorship to Alinsky, or cut out the middleman and go right to the source, is up to you.
Clinton appeared in her new podcast with her laptop oh so casually propped up on a stack of books. Sharp eyed observers identified one on the props: Erotics, a book of sculptures by artist Lucio Bubacco.
Google Books gushes:
“Lucio Bubacco’s works in glass are unparalleled examples of extraordinary Venetian flame technique – A witty play with the borders of kitsch, and biblical and carnevalesque iconography…Most of the subjects of Lucio Bubacco’s (b. 1957) glass art are provocative and polarizing; at the same time they are sensual and beguiling. In a kind of erotic ‘trance dance’ – Mephistophelian and frequently riotous – nightmarish fabulous creatures and mythological phantasms virtually undulate about each other…Full of wit and irony he thus explores the limits of kitsch without overstepping them. Follow him into a world of carnavalesque orgies, crystalline incubi and erotic fantasies in glass!”
Here is one of the tamer images:
Everything about Hillary Clinton is calculated, and she doubtless has a team of people facilitating all of her PR efforts. If that book was displayed, you can be sure it was deliberate.
I am a 40-something attorney and mother who lives in a quiet neighborhood with a yard and a garage full of scooters and soccer balls. I am not the type of person who would normally consider becoming a Satanist, but these are not normal times…
Our democracy has become so fragile that the loss of one of the last guardians of common sense and decency in government less than two months before a pivotal election has put our civil and reproductive rights in danger like never before. And, so, I have turned to Satanism.
Members of the Satanic Temple do not believe in the supernatural or superstition. In the same way that some Unitarians and some Jews do not believe in God, Satanic Temple members do not worship Satan and most are atheists. They are not affiliated in any way with the Church of Satan. Instead, the Satanic Temple uses the devil as a symbol of rebellion.
Just like other faiths, the Satanic Temple has a code that their members believe in deeply and use to guide their lives. These Seven Fundamental Tenets include that “one should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason,” that “the struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions,” and that “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.”
Reading through the Seven Tenets, I was struck by how closely they aligned with the unwritten code I had used to try to guide my own life for several years. I realized, happily, that these were my people and that I had been a Satanist for several years without even knowing it. When Justice Ginsburg’s death suddenly made combating the threats to reproductive rights and a government free from religious interference more urgent, I knew it was time to join them and support their conceptual and legal battles.
It’s hard to know in this sorry tale where the mental illness ends and the evil begins.
Conceptual battles are turning into real ones, thanks to these diabolical agitators. Research uncovered that the media-connected thug Jeremiah Elliot, the Denver assassin of a Trump supporter, also has ties to Satan flaunting activities.
These people are toying with something dangerous. Whether they believe in the supernatural or not, they are engaging in the worst impulses of humanity: hatred, selfishness, self-deception, manipulative lies, and reckless pride. Nothing positive can result in this cultivation of the demonic.
There’s nothing new about turning to evil to try and get your own way. That story goes all the way back to Adam and Eve, and dictates much of human history. The contemporary form of this affliction has the extra nasty twist of being insufferably smug about it, too.
“Despite the vast economic opportunities that improved the situation for much of the population, there were serious issues relating to the sudden upheaval of the social order. Customary roles and lifestyles were obliterated by the transformations. Poverty and exploitation continued, and even increased in the swelling city populations.
“But humankind, arrogant with increased power, imagined the same kind of empirical approach that reshaped the natural world could work equally as well on the human heart.
“The efficiency of the mechanistic view, once applied across all fields of human endeavor, seemed to promise human life and society must be perfectible. In the Nineteenth century, there was faith that the same kind of progress industrial science achieved could be applied to society. New interpretative social sciences and theories tried to match the accomplishments of technology.
“Modern age optimism assumed while religion and tradition had failed to create a worldly paradise, logic would prevail. The intellect would be humanity’s new savior, and pragmatic philosophy would make heaven on earth.
“The overreach and false equivalence at the heart of this assumption has caused cataclysmic consequences ever since. To think human existence can be operated like an orderly, regimented machine, or to even believe that this is a desirable thing, remains the dehumanizing legacy of the materialistic concepts that gained traction in the 1800s.
“For example, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Since that time, an estimated 100 million people have been massacred in the name of their historically necessary “perfected” society.
“It seems all those ordinary lives were just not perfectible enough. The miraculous material progress the Modern age gave us did not make us better people. Instead, it gave us new justifications for evil behavior.
“The corruption and downfall of good intentions is the inevitable consequence of trying to live without God.”
Our elites have chosen to exercise their self-serving demons, and they aren’t even pretending about it any longer. Our culture needs an exorcism.
I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy abook. Or a painting.
Going Deep: An image from the Red Book of Carl Jung
The war against the First Amendment has many fronts. It’s become clear our right to freely express ourselves is being smothered by those who control the means of our communications. This stifling may have been subtle in the past, but no longer.
The New Aristocracy of the Well Connected, the class which dominates our government, media, tech platforms, academia, and corporate boardrooms, are working in unison to suppress any Thoughtcrimes from spreading amongst the people. They can’t have any deplorable dregs of society dissenting from the totalitarian utopia being developed.
It has been become evident that the free flow of the Information Age has been stealthily blocked, filtered, and misrepresented to serve an agenda. The delusions being manufactured undermine our society; even our personal relationships are being soured.
However, “Empire follows art and not vice versa,”as the visionary artist William Blake noted. Enduring changes start in the arts. The signs that an unaccountable cabal was manipulating the culture into a state of uncomprehending submission were evident in the antics of the establishment art world for at least the last century.
Many refer to any puzzling artwork as “Modern.” Modern art as a set of dominant ideas in the cultural elite also lasted about a century, but were pretty much wiped out by the 1960s. We as a culture entered a very different mindset, the clumsy power grab of Postmodernism. It’s the magical thinking of the ruling elites, who have decreed that they can alter reality with the sorcery of sophistry, and deny out of existence the eternal chains of cause and effect. The world has suffered greatly under this subversive hoax. Anything that could disrupt the systematic brainwashing of the populace was infiltrated and corrupted.
The arts were early casualty in the battle, targeted because true art is such a powerful threat to the elite’s influence and control. There has been no freedom of expression for decades in the establishment art world. It’s the personnel that matter. Only partisan fellow travelers get advancement and opportunities.
The cultural institutions have replaced art with artifice, an empty mimicry of the outer appearances and gestures of art, without partaking of any of its true substance and significance. Major museums try to conflate art with amusement park rides and political activism. Where once the ruling class subsidized creative geniuses like Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso, they now throw money at marketing hucksters like Jeff Koons, propaganda shills like Banksy, and cynical nihilists like Damien Hirst.
These apparatchiks and others of their ilk can be counted on the enforce the status quo, and make the timeless human tradition of art seem off putting and banal. Postmodern art is a tool of oppression.
Jeff Koons: A Pile of Inadequacy
Banksy: Know Your Place, Peasants
Tanked: Damien Hirst
The Postmodern establishment wants to exterminate the experience of art. They would deny our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. They want us to stay shallow and distracted. Anything not subservient to the all-powerful groupthink is a dangerous blow against obligatory conformity.
The elites hate genuine art because it is beyond their control. As the great analyst Carl Jung stated, “To the scientific mind, such phenomena as symbolic ideas are a nuisance because they can not be formulated in a way that is satisfactory to intellect and logic.” Elitist minds are far from scientific, but they love pseudo-intellectual grandstanding, so they reject manifestations of humanity’s spiritual core. It’s why progressives lash out so viciously at profound human experiences like art, but also at religion, patriotism and family kinship. These feelings cannot be tamed into the passive slavery that is supposed to be our lot in life. The arts have been marginalized by the establishment’s relentless efforts to drain the soul out of everything.
Real art stirs a sense of mystery that is beyond any reply. It is just experienced. Great artists manage to transmit their own unique experience of the mystery into a form which others can partake in. Concepts arising from our unconscious are infinitely more meaningful than the social engineering gambits we are being forced into. This disconnect causes discontent, and so, from on high, there has been an all out effort to remove the chance anyone could have their mind expanded from exposure to artistic achievement.
It is impossible to eliminate our fundamental human drives for long. They’ll come back, with all the glory and savagery of nature, because the human unconscious is itself a force of nature. Art will come back into right purpose and application, and provide vital assistance in freeing other areas of life. Across the globe, in various ways, we are shedding the baggage and burdens our cultural administrators tried to bury us in.
Postmodernism is now the consensus worldview of the ruling elite. But far from being an unassailable citadel, Postmodernism is also the reason their current hierarchy is weakened, and failing. Their would-be tool of domination is destroying them. They’ve been hollowed out by their own corrupt pretensions; their collapse is inevitable.
Postmodernism is already dead; we just need to put a stake in its heart, vampire style, to keep it from continuing to wander around, feeding off of the living. And what comes post-Postmodernism? It is the dawn of a new era: the Remodern age.
As I describe in my upcoming book, “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization,” it’s time to get happy again, and look to the potentials of freedom:
“This is our moment in the mighty continuum of art and life. Real art knows no boundaries; it communicates across all times, across all cultures. Art is as much an aspect of our species as the opposable thumb, and just as prevalent. The art world can be as big as all of humankind, if we do if right. Remodernism accepts responsibility for the art of our times, conveying the wisdom of tradition into the opportunities of the future. Remodernism is love made visible.”
Carl Jung discussed the archetypes, models for the human experience that exist in our collective unconscious. One of the archetypes of the West is the Dragon Slayer. Postmodernism is just the latest version of the world serpent, the force in life that seeks chaos and destruction. Our own inner nature tells us we are destined to prevail against this threat, but only through bold action. Art is a Remodern weapon we can wield.
Carl Jung Understood the West: Our Monsters, Our Heroes
EDIT: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please view other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.
*Update: Richard Bledsoe will be offline for an extended period due to an unexpected medical situation. I am Richard’s wife, Michele Bledsoe – and for the interim I will act as his hands and eyes.
The following is a section from a major work-in-progress about art and culture Richard is writing.
“It’s a fashionable world and even good artists go out of fashion.”
-Robert Storr, art world academician
Through my early art school days in 1980s, while I focused on keeping up in classes and learning about the distant geniuses of the past, I was less knowledgeable about contemporary art. Although I was highly engaged with cultural interests, I didn’t know a lot about the art world yet. My punk habit lent itself more to musical trends, and film operates in an entirely different realm than the rarefied atmosphere of the art gallery.
It was my second year studying painting when consciousness of the dominant contemporary visual art scene started to seep in.
First of all, I was surprised to learn in my painting and drawing courses that painting was, in fact, dead.
To understand the logic of that idea requires understanding that the institutional art world is a fashion victim. Despite the airs of conviction and sophistication participants in the arts like to flaunt, the reality is many of them are desperate followers of trends, fads and cliques.
In this particular era when I was at Virginia Commonwealth University, the correct jaded and ironic pose to strike was that painting had run its course as an art form, that it was exhausted and had nothing left to say. We were meant to be embracing new means of expression.
In the early 1990s, while I was still at college, VCU imported a genuine New York museum curator for a lecture to demonstrate this for us. All that traditional stuff was passé, he inferred. He had seen the future; in fact he’d be one of the ones who got pick what the future would be. He was doing all us Virginia hicks a favor by coming to give us the inside scoop.
And what was the glorious destiny of the art world to come, according to this bigwig?
That’s right: political installation art!
If you don’t know what political installation art is, you probably haven’t been in a gallery or a museum for the last thirty years. This curator and others of his ilk created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Under their stewardship every serious arts venue has become saturated with various forms of propaganda instead of art. Political installations indeed became the future of art, because that’s precisely what the few people entrusted to make the decisions about such things for our entire culture wanted to happen. They were partisans for the Postmodern corruption of the arts.
A recent example of what happens when “art” gets political
During his lecture at us, the curator displayed a series of slides. I forget exactly what they depicted; they were recent works from some Biennale or something. What the pictures showed were rooms full of trash, misplaced mundane objects, and pointless aggregations of random items.
Fortunately the New York intellectual was there to translate for us, explaining how what we were seeing were not presentations of craftless junk, but Important Statements on homelessness, nuclear disarmament, and gender roles.
I left this lecture baffled yet angry. If painting was dead, what the hell was VCU charging all that tuition for?
It wasn’t the money that made me mad. It was the sheer folly of it all.
There’s some idea floating around in pop psychology that if something makes you angry it means you feel threatened by it, that it’s a challenge to your preconceived notions, and it’s an opportunity to grow.
In some cases this is true. However, often I’ve seen that concept thrown out as an attempt at misdirection, to change the subject away from some blatant travesty or transgression.
If you don’t put your values and beliefs to the test consistently, then you can be vulnerable to the suggestion that the problem lies in you, not with whatever absurdity raised your ire. Next thing you know, you are on the defensive, filled with doubt, and ready to eat whatever they’re trying to feed you. It’s a horribly manipulative process, and the gatekeepers of our culture have made themselves masters of this kind of distraction.
The only defense is to know yourself well, flaws and all, and recognize Who the only true source of authority is.
We’re all far from perfect, but that does not mean we have to succumb to the devious machinations of the wicked.
I recognized this so-called art was a lie. I felt it in my bones. It was as instinctual as breathing. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but I understood I was witnessing a betrayal, a coup, an assassination.
What I experienced was the entirely justifiable rage felt when witnessing an attempted swindle unfold, perpetrated by a type of huckster who wasn’t nearly as clever as he thought he was. It was the classic fallacy of the appeal to authority. This guy was some big shot curator, thus his declarative statements were to be supposed to be received as wisdom. But what I saw was some patronizing poseur projecting all sorts of ridiculous significance onto heaps of torn cardboard.
He was just about the most naked emperor I’d ever encountered up to that point. Unfortunately I would soon be exposed to many more.
A silly little article that participates in a growing trend among the elitists: Shut Up Culture. The establishment must be getting worried, and feeling their grip on the reins slipping. So the new attitude is no longer is anyone allowed to question or dissent from appreciating the shoddy house of cards they’ve designed for us all. The priggish repression of Political Correctness is having to expand into whole new territories to try and maintain their monopoly on thought and its expression.
See some contemporary art that does not show any particular skill or insight? Don’t you dare criticize it for that, the author here states. The problem is not that the art is feeble, but that you peons have a bad attitude.
The article also touches on the idea I feel as more to do with rotting out the achievements of contemporary visual art than anything else: the concept that art is some kind of puzzle, that its supposed to make you ponder and question what the nature of art is. You go down that rabbit hole, and you have left the experience of art-you’re now partaking in some particularly useless circular thinking, far removed from the vital experience of life.
Anyone one can question, it’s dull and easy and impersonal. What is more important is conclusions. Make an art that shows me where your inner questions have led you, and then we’ll be getting somewhere.
The article concludes: “The next time you find yourself in the Tate or wherever it may be, if someone utters the words ‘I could have done that’, simply reply: ‘then why didn’t you?'”
I have an answer: Because it was not worthwhile. And I will not shut up about the failure on display.