“Bill Wants To Be The Bad Boy:” A Me-Too’d Art “Maven” and the Postmodern Abuse of Art

Circling The Drain:

Taking Advantage of the Decline of Artistic Expectations 

They say the way you do something is the way you do everything.

Here in Phoenix, Arizona, an all too familiar drama is playing out. An affluent influencer has been accused of sexual aggression towards multiple women. The details offered are lurid, and awful.

No charges have been filed. There is no proof I am aware of, beyond mostly anonymous statements given to journalists. In this country, we are all innocent until proven guilty. This must be a very difficult time for everyone involved. Pray for all of them.

Unlike Joe Biden, I was not there 3,000 years ago, when Isildur took the ring and the strength of men failed. But I was there in 2002, when landscape architect Bill Tonneson took the title of artist, and the integrity of the art world failed. I met Bill Tonneson at one of his first exhibits, at the old Paper Heart Gallery.

It was a poor showing. Mostly patterns of found objects mounted on wall hung canvases. But it turns out, these examples of bland decor were the opening moves of a grand strategy.

Back then, Tonneson had decided he would make himself the world’s third most famous artist in one year. In a Phoenix New Times interview at the time with art critic Robrt Pela, Tonneson explained his gambit. The article is full of telling quotes:

A year ago, architect Bill Tonnesen launched a career in modern art. His 12-month goal: to create 100 significant pieces, and to land a one-man show in a notable gallery. He chronicled his experience in the self-published Tonnesen: 12 Months to Fame and Fortune in the Art World. The book pictures many of his mixed-media assemblages (a frame filled with teacups, another jammed with hundreds of Bic pens) and is full of revelations (“As I surveyed the art world, there seemed to be a lot of paintings. Crazy abstract stuff that looked relatively easy to do.”)…

NT: There’s that old line that you always hear about modern art: “Hey, my kid could do that!” Your career as an artist strikes me as a big riff on that whole notion.

Tonnesen: That’s a subject I love to talk about: understanding art. The notion that one painting deserves a more important place in the history of art. It’s very convenient for uninformed people to think that their opinion is the equal of someone like [deceased MOMA curator] Robert Storr’s. What makes contemporary art so unique that suddenly everybody is an expert? Why can some idiot walk in off the street and think his opinion about a painting has any value?…

NT: …You actually made an A-list of artists in your book. What is that based on?

Tonnesen: Primarily on auction results.

NT: So for you, it’s all about the money artists make, and not what their work is expressing or how it moves you.

Tonnesen: Well, money is a measure of collectibility. So are references in textbooks, a presence in museums, and mentions in publications like Art News, which essentially make the art world. But the common currency is money. It’s the most concise way of determining an artist’s popularity.

NT: That’s a pretty arrogant position to take, to create a list that values artists based on how much money they make.

Tonnesen: The list is the least controversial aspect of what I’ve done. Essentially, it’s unchallenged, partly because if you survey the horizon of thousands upon thousands of artists, people like Jasper Johns and Gerhardt Richter are the ones who rise up, and it’s relatively . . . I can’t think of the word.

NTYou seem torn between saying that the art world is full of shit and wanting to be part of it.

Tonnesen: My goal is to point out that the art industry is a market, like any other. I am a libertarian, laissez faire capitalist. I believe in markets. What I’m interested in doing is studying how the art market works and competing there, but not at a regional level. I have worked now for one year in this regional environment, and now I’m ready to compete on a larger stage…

The interview concludes with this nugget of Tonneson analysis: “I don’t think people really have much insight into what is art and what is not art.”

Bill Tonneson has been relying that disconnect ever since.

In the interview above Tonneson expresses the perspective of a Postmodern partisan. The attitudes are all there: the relativisim. The appeals to authority. The derision towards the little people who dare to have their own opinions. The lust for money, fame and power. Tonneson states the values of the establishment art industry, which are of course the values of the establishment in general. Our elites are corrupt Postmodernists to the core.

His take-over-the-art-world book is still available (Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,664,166 in Books). Needless to say, that initial scheme failed. But the marketing blitz made Tonneson a player in the lively Phoenix arts scene.

British artist Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Remodern art movement, has attributed the crisis of relevance in the contemporary arts to “…a Postmodern ethos that puts celebrity, cynicism and commerce above any spiritual or deeper human values.”I would add a fourth C to that list: controversy. Since 2002, Tonneson has worked those unappealing angles to keep himself as an artistic presence.

Like in 2012, when he plunked this beauty down in front of his house, so the nearby pre-school and church could take a gander at it:

 

“Arizona Man Feuds with Neighbors Over Statue of Obese Naked Woman,” reported the New York Daily News.

“I love it,” Tonnesen said. “I’m crazy about it.”…he wishes his neighbors could see it as a work of art, and not just a nude woman. His neighbors aren’t alone — Torrenson said his wife doesn’t like the statue’s placement and made him cover with a sheet.

“Until I can work something out with my wife, we’re going to leave it covered,” he told KNXV.

That poor long suffering lady. I read a later article which said Tonneson had added a bikini made out of money to the piece, but I couldn’t find an image of it.

He was at it again in Tucson in 2013: “Artist Hopes Nude Statues Cause a Bit of Outrage:

Tonnesen has created a pair of statues — torsos of nude women jutting out of a tower of truck tires — that sit in front of an apartment building at 2230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

In Phoenix, Tonnesen is a bit of a bad boy. Some of his large-scale pieces, often in prominent spots at apartment buildings, are in-your-face nudes. One, an obese nude woman sitting on a wall, faces a church. Another nude — it looks to be of the same large model — holding a urinal at her crotch (presumably an homage to Duchamp) is on display at the front of an apartment building not far from the Phoenix Art Museum. Protests to the works were loud.

Tonnesen, who solicits publicity, loves the controversy his art creates…Tonnesen calls the works, molded from a live model and made primarily of plaster and epoxy with a steel frame, “Domestic Totems.”

Two female torsos sit on top of 11 gleaming black tires, raising the works up to about 16 feet, nearly reaching the top of the second story of the two-story building.

The torsos are white. Each has large, exposed breasts.

The figures are draped with a shawl and have headpieces made of pots, pans, dishes and other accouterments of domesticity. One has an electric hand beater as a necklace, a mop covering her eyes as though they are long bangs, a baby sitting on top of the headpiece, and a mouselike figurine on top of that. The woman’s mouth is opened in a sort of shocked “O.”

…“My grandson doesn’t like them; he thinks they’re nasty,” says Marybeth Davis, who lives there with him. She, on the other hand, has no problem with the bare breasts. It’s the works themselves that bother her.

“I don’t call them art,” she says. “I call them gaudy.”

Tonneson’s controversies aren’t limited to art. Even before the recent allegations, in his landscape architecture business there have been some very vocal dissatisfied customers, and neighbors. His plans for a Phoenix Holocaust Memorial spiraled out of control (Illusions of Grandeur, New Times March 2005).  The project was not completed. And then there was the time he convinced the former mayor of Tempe to convert a local landmark into a Bill Tonneson theme park. (Bill Tonnesen, Contentious Tempe Developer, Aims for Immortality, New Times November 2012)The city council didn’t go along with that one.
Quotes from the linked articles paint an evocative picture:
On renovations:

…At first, the pair enjoyed getting to know the charismatic designer and his workers. They even bought a few pieces of his artwork, including one with orderly rows of coffee cups featured in Tonnesen. He assured them it would only grow in value as his art career took off.

But the piece hasn’t aged well; one of the coffee cups has fallen off its backing, and in its place, Dacquisto has stuck a movie stub from Kill Bill Vol. 1. Like the artwork, his relationship with Tonnesen also deteriorated precipitously, after the project dragged on for nearly a year…Worst of all, when the partners went to talk to a lawyer, the lawyer gave them a piece of information that caught them totally off guard: Tonnesen Inc. didn’t have a license to do electrical work, which it had done. Or a mechanical license. Or a plumbing license. Or a residential contractor’s license. Tonnesen never should have been allowed to redo their kitchen in the first place, their lawyer explained….

The Holocaust Memorial:

Tonnesen claims, repeatedly, that Phoenix’s memorial will be the only one in the world to show six million objects. It’s a contentious claim: After all, schoolchildren in rural Tennessee recently collected more than six million paper clips to display in an old German cattle car. It was an improvised effort, without a master plan or a visionary architect, but the exhibit now draws thousands of kids from all over the Southeast….

But that doesn’t count, Tonnesen says, not under his criteria. Sitting in a big pile, the paper clips aren’t visually distinct.

Similarly, he doesn’t count the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, which shows six million numbers etched on six glass towers. “That’s different,” he says.

He can’t seem to acknowledge that any previous effort has hit the nail on the head. This, after all, is a guy who dismisses the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: “Beautiful idea, but immaturely executed.”

There goes the neighborhood, and the Tempe Flour Mill:

…And always, Tonnesen’s sculptures — many of them life-size statues of Tonnesen himself, in various guises: holding an umbrella, pointing at a giant thermometer, perched atop an air-conditioning unit. But his accolades…often are drowned out by the moaning of people who’ve had dealings with Tonnesen.

Like the employees worried that he talks too much about working without proper permitting. And the city officials who felt he was forcing his public art onto the Tempe Flour Mill site, after he sneaked two of his sculptures onto the site on the evening of its grand opening…

“The problem with Bill isn’t a lack of talent,” says a colleague of Tonnesen’s who refused to be named because, he says, any public commentary on Tonnesen leads to days and days of e-mails and phone calls and recriminations.

“It’s that he doesn’t listen, and he wants everything his way. So you ask him for a glass of water, and he brings you a swimming pool. And you say, ‘Put the swimming pool in my backyard, then,’ and he mounts it on your roof and plants 70 trees around it and then encases it in a big metal box made out of recycled refrigerator shelving, because it’s what he wants.”

…”His houses are ridiculous, and they don’t fit in on our street,” says one of Tonnesen’s Tempe neighbors, who won’t go on-record because she’s heard other neighbors complaining about Tonnesen screaming at them. “I got yelled at by people on the block, because I had seven wind chimes on my front porch. But this guy can have a giant metal box and a hundred trees in the front yard, and everyone’s thrilled!”

****

“I’m hard to work with,” Tonnesen admits. “When I hire someone, the chances of it working out are tiny. I only care about two people’s opinions — my wife’s and my assistant’s. Everyone else is just workers, and I’m hoping they won’t screw everything up.”

“Bill does things first and asks permission later,” that ever-vigilant assistant, Samantha Staiger, says. “That bothers people.”

“You gotta make your own opportunity!” Tonnesen yells excitedly. He’s an imposing presence: 6 1/2 feet tall, wearing his signature uniform of pressed blue jeans and a white Oxford shirt with his last name stitched above the pocket. His smooth hairstyle recalls the blunt bob worn by Gloria Vanderbilt in the ’60s and ’70s. “I’m not sitting around waiting for permission. I try to be proactive and to make things happen…”

***

“I had some grandiose ideas,” Tonnesen admits of his Flour Mill plans. “I want to do the unexpected. I want people to be curious and confused by the art things we put in. So I drew up an elevated walkway with a hole in it, and we would have someone sitting by the hole, and maybe spraying water on people or videotaping them as they walked by.”…the Tempe City Council wouldn’t go for a walkway with a built-in hooligan, so Tonnesen came up with a second plan: a giant Advent calendar-like cabinet filled with his own custom statuary.

“I had it dripping with my sculptures!” he bellows gleefully. “And of course no one had any money to do this. I would have done it for free! When it’s an iconic structure in my own town, I’m on board!”

To rehabilitate his reputation, Tonneson worked with Alison King, a web designer and co-founder of Modern Phoenix.

Shining up Tonnesen’s public image was no easy task, King admits. “It was among the hardest jobs I’ve taken on,” she says. “Bill wants to be a bad boy. He can’t help it. It’s who he is. He would rather ask for forgiveness later than ask permission first.”

But then, in his most ambitious art move yet, Tonneson got his theme park. Thwarted by short sighted city bureaucrats, he installed his monument to himself, himself. Bill Tonneson went to the Lavatory.

The Lavatory is the name of Tonneson’s solo act art museum. Seriously, what is it with these elitists and their juvenile caca fixations? 

“Big Fun Art’ Spreads to Phoenix” City Lab December 2018

Illuminated by floor-recessed lighting, the bottom half of a 1,500 square-foot subterranean room is suffused in pink, slow-curling fog. By one wall is a life-sized plaster-cast statue of a bare-chested woman, head concealed in cloth, holding a naked infant upside-down. A gaunt female model with an alabaster face saunters languidly through the space, like a mute witness to some macabre ritual. The 50 or so patrons, who each paid a $30 entrance fee, tentatively explore the room’s perimeter, wading through the puffy fuchsia tide, when a baritone voice registers through speakers:
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to be buried alive.”
Following a New Year’s Eve-style countdown, a huge net tethered to the ceiling releases 120,000 three-inch plastic iridescent balls, eliciting instantaneous glee from the crowd. They now occupy the largest, most bizarre, adult ball pit playpen in the world.The “wizard” behind the curtain is 63 year-old Bill Tonnesen, who serves as MC at the Lavatory, a risqué, if not outright scatological, art exhibition housed in a 16,000 square-foot, two-story commercial building just north of downtown Phoenix…in addition to the “pit,” [it} includes other themed rooms (one requires a non-disclosure agreement to enter). Also featured are two claymation cyclorama booths with professional portrait quality lighting conditions; a claustrophobic ten-by-eight foot room filled floor-to-ceiling with 18 functioning toilets; and many, many pieces of artwork by Tonnesen himself.

“A traditional experience at a gallery or museum is to look at a painting on a wall,” the artist told CityLab. “We’re working on a mechanism to make that painting fall if you get too close. My goal is to confuse.”

There is some confusion going on here all right. Clarity can be reached by looking at the broader, top down goals being inflicted on our culture.

The Postmodern establishment is trying to exterminate the experience of art. As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization: 

Art is undergoing a crisis of relevance. Elitist malfeasance has marginalized the visual arts in popular culture. In doing so, the New Aristocracy of the Well-Connected block access to powerful resources. They 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. As a result, the mass audience has turned away. People instinctually reject the superficial and nihilistic contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class.

Ruling class totalitarians use Postmodern art as a tool of oppression. Elitists have weaponized art into an assault on the foundations of Western civilization. This deceitful cabal seeks to destroy any principled perspective on the lies, manipulations, and abuses they commit. The scourge of Postmodern relativism as a cultural force is no accident; it’s a top-down driven campaign. Hyping soulless, unskilled art has a toxic, weakening effect on society as a whole.

There’s more than one way the elites have attacked art. The really prevalent one right now is to turn art into just another form of leftist activism. 

But the more insidious one is to replace art with the fleeting, tacky thrills and tawdry spectacles of a carnival midway and sideshow.  This is why you now get things like giant slides in art museums.

The Tate Museum’s Downward Slide 

Sure, that looks like fun, but is it art? No, it is not.

Depsite Postmodernism’s efforts to redefine words to suit the vast agendas of control, real art is the very opposite of the whirl and swirl of the county fair. Real art freezes a particular moment and makes it reverberate with timelessness and deep meaning. It doesn’t immerse us in sensations which drive us to distraction. Real art moves slowly in us, but with massive force. It is an enduring and abiding experience. Real art inspires  awe regarding human potentials, and takes us out of ourselves.

The elites don’t want us to have those profound moments. Too much risk of uplifting, transformative wisdom occurring. The ideologically driven artifice they favor can’t provide the moving qualities actual art delivers. So, using their hold over our cultural institutions, they are doing a massive bait and switch. Call something art, but then deliver cheap, lewd variations of Chuck E. Cheese attractions. They substitute the intensity of traditional art with an empty buzz of quick hit one-liners.  That will keep the ignorant proles in their place!

The Future of Art? 

The Lavatory fails the achieve art. It might pass as a fun house, but it doesn’t really look like much fun. It’s over burdened, trying to prove its art cred by dragging in stale Duchamp references. The images from it suggest a sinister, sleazy vibe, which recent reports only amplify.

Scenes From the Lavatory. Ick.

After the Me-Too style allegations surfaced, the Lavatory has gone dark. Tonneson shut down his Instagram account, and from the vicious commentary left showing on his Facebook page, it seems to be untended as well. Venues have started removing his works from display.

Tonneson’s come back before from scandal. He may be back again. If so, we can hope he will be able to deliver an authentic artistic experience, rather than just another tacky destination for selfies.

Bill Tonneson: Say Cheesecake 

 

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other articles for more commentary on the State of the Arts from a Remodern perspective. 

8 Times Trashy Postmodern Art Got Thrown into the Garbage

 

Literally Litter:

The Postmodern Party is Over 

.

Here’s a simple proposition: real art and rubbish are mutually exclusive.

Postmodern artists don’t understand this.

Lots of people call the bizarre and off-putting art displayed in contemporary galleries and museums “Modern Art.” However, we’ve left the ideas that drove the Modern age behind us. We are living through the death throes of  the Postmodern era, a much more troubling time.

Postmodernism is the camouflage outfit for Cultural Marxism, a 100 year project to destroy Western Civilization. The New Aristocracy of the Well Connected intended to launch a new Dark Age, where elitists wielded unaccountable power over a vast dispirited serfdom. They use mass media psychological manipulation to undermine us all. Their strategy was to manipulate language, and corrupt our institutions, in order to make us all submit.

This top-down project has finally started meeting serious resistance; their kingdom of sophistry and social pressures is crumbling. Postmodernism has failed, but the routing of the enemies within, and the massive work of reconstruction, will be a long and challenging process.

Perhaps no field displays Postmodern excesses and absurdity more that the arts. Modern art had already introduced alienation and fragmentation into the artistic experience. Art, the communal expression of beauty and order, had been undermined by reckless ideologues. They valued experimentation as an end in itself, and lost sight of being able to produce meaningful results. Above all else, art is a form of communication. Modernist partisans, fixated on art’s technical properties, often ended up irrelevant and incoherent.

When Postmodernism began to rise in the 1960s, it shifted artistic emphasis towards relativism, political proselytizing, and nihilism. Postmodernism is a clumsy power grab. It works on the doubtful premise “whatever the art scene asserts is art, is art.” We are all expected to bow before their insider status and so-called expertise.

So what do Postmodern scenesters advance as art? They thrive on “appropriation.” This means artists don’t actually make what they claim is their artwork; it’s made by hired skilled craftsmen, or already existing objects are merely collected and displayed. Often, these found objects are literally trash.

Here are eight times when cleaning crews showed more wisdom than the arts establishment, and put Postmodern garbage exactly where it belonged.

 

1. Damien Hirst “Painting by Numbers” (2001)

.One of the kingpins of Postmodern non-art is the no-longer-so-young Young British Artist Damien Hirst. Before he was involved in a price manipulation scandal where he bought his own art to jack up the reported sales price, in 2001 Hirst tried to pass off some other trash as his own artistic production.

.Instead of cleaning up after the Eyestorm Gallery’s opening party for his installation “Painting By Numbers,” he proclaimed the remaining debris was now part of the show. However, the janitors didn’t see “the piles of full ashtrays, half-filled coffee cups, empty beer bottles and newspapers strewn across the gallery” as  adding anything to the ambiance. They chucked it all, although we are assured it was”…an impromptu installation, which increased its value by thousands.”

Fortunately, a counterpoint of common sense was articulated by artist Charles Thomson:

Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckist art movement, which favours the traditional skills of drawing and painting, praised Mr Asare’s action.

“The cleaner obviously ought to be promoted to an art critic of a national newspaper. He clearly has a fine critical eye and can spot rubbish, just as the child could see that the emperor wasn’t wearing any new clothes,” he said.

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2. Gustav Metzger “Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art” (2004)

The Tate Britain was not ashamed to show garbage as art, but they were embarrassed when it got thrown into the crusher.  They described it as “an artwork by Gustav Metzgerin…made up of several elements, one of which is a rubbish bag included by the artist as an integral part of the installation.”

Even though the bag was retrieved, the artist declared the trash was now ruined and could not be used. Thanks goodness he came up with some additional waste to take its place.

The museum spokesperson  declared “The new rubbish bag is now put in a box overnight for safe keeping,” without a whiff of irony.

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3. Leslie Rech “Anna Dropped Her Basket” (2004)

This poor artist was only trying to bring some culture to the mean streets of Columbia, South Carolina. Instead, she found out just how mean those streets could be.

A sanitation worker disposed of her offering for an installation art show, which “consisted of about 300 eggshells and a handmade dress,” in an alleyway.

Matt Kennell, executive director of the organization which hosted the event, acknowledged the misunderstanding involved. “What he saw was a dress on top of eggshells, so he cleaned it up,” Kennell said. “That’s his job, to clean stuff out of alleys.”

Apparently, Kennell’s job is to facilitate placing stuff into alleys, instead of taking it out.

 

4. Paul Branca “Mediating Landscape” (2014)

This Italian installation at Sala Murat featured newspapers, cardboard and cookie crumbs scattered across the floor. After the cleaning lady swept up, the damage to the artwork was estimated  to be 10,000 euros (over $15,000 in American dollars at the time).

They must have been some very expensive cookies indeed.

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5. Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari “Where Shall We Go Dancing Tonight?” (2015)

2015

Italy again. It took two Postmodern artistes to think this one up.

Described as an art installation of “empty champagne bottles and spent party poppers,’ this masterpiece was successfully retrieved from the dumpster by the cleaners who threw it out., and reinstalled. Letizia Ragaglia, director of the Museion Bozen-Bolzano, stated “It all goes to show how contemporary art is capable of arousing great interest, or even annoying people.” Mostly the latter.

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6. Pepa Chan “Resurfacing” (2015)

In the city of St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, a local artist had her outdoor installation hauled away.  Pepe Chan had created what looks like some kind of creepy attempt to lure kids into a homeless encampment. Of course, it was meant to “invoke the forgotten identities and traumas of aboriginal children using found toys and aboriginal poetry.”

What Chan didn’t invoke was the needed permission to actually use city property as her display space.  She didn’t pursue getting a permit “because of the large amount of work and red tape that goes into doing so.”

She grimly noted, “It’s like what I was trying to explore with my work, their answer to it was so violent.”

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7. Will Kurtz “Keep America Great Again” 2016

No collection of contemporary art would complete without some OrangeManBad in it. Will Kurtz made this contribution. It’s a play on a certain campaign slogan, and it’s an overflowing garbage can! Get it?

The janitors didn’t get it. They emptied the trash can. The raccoon was spared.

In a strange twist of fate, curator Brooke Shields went dumpster diving to find the missing waste.

Hopefully that saved Art Southampton gallery from having to cough up the $8,000.00 price tag for the loss.

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8. Carol May “Unhappy Meal” (2018)

 

Hong Kong has its troubles today, but they are nothing compared to what this poor artist experienced in 2018. Her art, a negative knockoff of an emblematic fast food design, got tossed from the Harbour Art Fair.

Even though the piece was later found, “…it was battered beyond repair.”

“Initially I didn’t find it funny at all,” May said. “But later I realized it meant my imitation had been a success.”

This is some definition of success I am not familiar with.

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Why is there this persistent effort to rename garbage as art? In many ways, these misleading misnomers reflect the core values of the collapsing Postmodern project; the abuse of authority. Word games and rationalizations. Efforts to divide, and confuse, and suppress. It’s the Postmodern mindset itself which is rubbish.

But something is rising to take the place of this outmoded, half baked totalitarianism. Art is actually a great weakness for the elites, because they have so obviously trashed it. As I write in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, the tide is turning:

The elitists understood to maintain power, they had to undermine resistance. That’s why the top down cultural forces have made Postmodernism so prevalent. Using mass media to communicate their sickening message, the establishment made dispiriting Postmodernism the terrain we all must navigate, the atmosphere we all must breathe, the environment we all must adapt to.

But this effort at control loses its presumptive prestige once its mechanics and motivations are exposed. How can the spell of Postmodernism best be broken? You can’t beat something with nothing, even if the something is as stupid and unfulfilling as Postmodernism. A credible alternative must be established.

Remodernism is the recognition that Western civilization is still mighty. Remodernism knows we can still use our talents to create unprecedented growth. Remodernism is understanding our best days are still ahead of us, if we make the right choices, and do the needed work.

We will demonstrate this in art, to begin with. Imagine a new, decentralized creative class not invested in trashing our culture, but in celebrating it. What a choice to present to our citizens. Uplifting, honest artistry will change the tone of our entire society. Where we go one, we go all.

Renew the arts, and renew the civilization.

 

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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 a book. Or a painting. Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. 

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other articles for more commentary on the state of the arts from a Remodern perspective.

 

When Politicized “Ventriloquising” Replaces Art, Who Are the Dummies?

Helen Cammock: Poet?

“From Brutality to Livelihood to Discarded Cumbersome Noncompetitive Capital Investment…”

Cumbersome Indeed

***

“Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.”

-Ambrose Bierce

 

The UK’s Tate Museum holds an annual awards ceremony, the Turner Prize. It’s supposed to be about art, but it isn’t. This spectacle is meant to lavish funds and attention on whoever is judged to be Britain’s best exemplar of the Postmodern establishment’s efforts to undermine Western civilization.

The elites are on a relentless quest to eliminate genuine art from the culture. The long march through the institutions has resulted in our social foundations being riddled with radical hacks. Since colluding Cultural Marxists maintain monopolistic control over society’s mass communications, including the arts, these partisans set the agenda. It’s now painfully clear the program is to reduce art to just another vehicle for social justice activism.

The excesses and absurdity of the Turner Prize are nothing new. It’s been retreating from recognizing actual artistic achievement since its inception in 1984. The Stuckists, the first Remodern art movement, organized protests against the inane non-art of the Turner shortlists for years.

But a shift is happening in the art world. Emphasis is moving away from trends which dominated the art market since the 1990s: obviously silly anti-art.

Not Woke Enough 

This junk was political in the sense it was an assault on traditional expectations of artistic excellence. Now even that mask is off, and nothing but pure propaganda will be advanced and rewarded.

Case in point: Turner Prize nominee Helen Cammock. She makes dull videos while reciting derivative observations and slogans. It’s a poor substitute for creativity and skill.

She lays out her cred in this article:

ARTNET: ‘All Art Is Political’: Meet Artist Helen Cammock, Who Went From Social Worker to Turner Prize Nominee

“I think all art is political,” Cammock says. “Even if you make work that doesn’t speak of politics, if you’re not speaking you’re making a political decision.” But the artist feels her message is wider in scope than just a criticism of Italian politics. “It’s a global statement, and it’s the same statement I would make about this country” she says. “We are also living in the politics of the far right, we are just in a different geographical location.”

“The call to action is to everyone,” Cammock says. “It’s not about identifying Italian politics or Italian culture as any more extreme because I believe we are all in a very dangerous and poisonous moment.”

Fascinating. While Cammock’s fellow travelling leftists dominate not only the arts, but government, media, social media, tech companies, academia, corporate boardrooms, and the globalized upper class, she’s lamenting that the “far right” is shaping the environment. Right.

In a way though, she’s got a point. There are threats to the status quo, which was supposed to be permanent. Even though the Cultural Marxists rule, they have not succeeded is forcing all to bow before their usurped power. The people oppose the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected.

Eruptions are happening around the world. From American Deplorables to French Yellow Vests, from the UK’s own Brexiteers to Hong Kong’s Umbrella Protests, from Italian sovereignism to the Brazilian PSL, there are mass movements against our declining Postmodern masters.

This was foretold in the arts, going back to when the Stuckists dressed like clowns as a condemnation of the beclowning of the Tate Museum. Welcome to the next phase of civilization: the Remodern Age. The story of the 21st century will be the dismantling of centralized power. It’s an exciting time, even though the course ahead will not be easy.

The Helen Cammocks of the art world oppose this developing and promising future. They lash out against it because it threatens their privileged positions as useful tools within the Postmodern hierarchy.

Of course Helen Cammock believes all art is political. Her inferior replacements for art are nothing but realpolitik screeds of victimhood and implied retributions. Helen Cammock is up for the Turner Prize because she checks the correct diversity boxes, not because of the quality of her so-called art.

Watch one of her pieces here, if you can bear it: Helen Cammock Showreel. It may have been the longest 6 minutes of my life. A static camera films uninteresting scenes, or stock footage unspools, while a monotonous voice drones on in buzzwords about economics and exploitation. Truly an art for the ages!

Helen Cammock is cashing in on the passive aggressive stance of the establishment’s preferred mode identity politics. Because once people were mistreated, she must be above criticism. Whatever she churns out must be lauded and praised. She presents her stale monologue travelogues as if appreciation is mandatory due to ethical concerns.

The art world set these expectations for her. She’s come so far without displaying any legitimate artistic chops. Does she realize she gets opportunities not despite the fact she is a 40-year-old-female-of-color-Sociology-major-former-social-worker-without-an-artistic-background-who-spouts-leftist-dogma, but because she is a 40-year-old-female-of-color-Sociology-major-former-social-worker-without-an- artistic-background-who-spouts-leftist-dogma? This quote from the article may reveal some lack of self-awareness:

Her affinity for text was something she discovered while studying for her Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. She was juggling the coursework while running a photography festival in Brighton, and a sympathetic tutor excused her from having to make work for the remainder of the course if she promised write something every day. “That was the beginning of it,” Cammock says.

Wow, getting preferential treatment from an institute of higher learning. Better check your privilege! I feel sorry for all those saps who had to actually do their coursework to earn their degrees.

Not everything has been easy for Cammock though. She ruefully describes this:

“People can be very suspicious of artists,” she explains. “There’s an idea that it’s really surface or superficial, or that it’s a way of stealing, like cultural thievery. But I want it to be an exchange.”

Maybe if her art was better, she wouldn’t be so sensitive to the charges. Granted, the establishment art industry has been superficial for decades. The griping about cultural appropriation sounds like the wailing of other leftists butthurt they got outmaneuvered in the intersectional grievance identity sweepstakes. Normal people don’t think or act that way. But hurling ideological accusations to drag a rival down is a prime tool for leftist status seeking. We can see it playing out in the increasing frantic Trotskyites versus the Maoists dynamic which is roiling the political classes. Stay tuned to see how that plays out.

As I describe in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization

Postmodernism started off by redefining art into anti-art. It’s now spread. Like a virus, Postmodernism converted every institution it infested into a factory for producing more of the Postmodern disease. Postmodernism makes every worthy cause betray its rightful mission. Remodernism is the correction of this treachery.

 

In another article, Cammock describes her efforts as “ventriloquising.” I’m confused by the analogy. Is she claiming to be the puppet master here, making her subjects mouth her approved tropes? Or is she saying she is the dummy, and supposedly the downtrodden masses are speaking through her? Is she The People’s Poet? Ryk, the original SJW from the cult TV show The Young Ones, shows how it’s done:

The People’s Poet: Don’t You Give A Fig? 

 

Either way, whether she’s claiming to be the mastermind or the mouthpiece, such a method has nothing to do with the intimate explorations that lead to compelling artistic excellence. Just look at her results.

The art of Helen Cammock is a phenomenon of the elite’s totalitarian effort to squeeze every aspect of life into rigid political submission. Her videos are not art, they are indoctrination. Politically correct Postmodern attitudes would demand we ignore the misdirection and failure on display.

Remodernism rejects this conformist approach. It recognizes we the people have the right to self determination, including the right not to accept a biased, uninspired sociology lecture as a valid replacement for the mystery, the grandeur, and beauty that only real art can provide.

 

Helen Cammock: Putting Identity Politics on a Pedestal 

 

 

My previous article on last year’s Turner Prize follies. From May 6, 2018:

ARTICLE: Activist Art Exposed as an Elitist Bait and Switch

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other articles for more commentary on the state of the arts from a Remodern perspective.

 

 

EMBATTLED VCU PROFESSOR WAS ONCE MY ART TEACHER. HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED.

All Aboard the Witch Hunt Band Wagon!

The College Mob Springs into Action 

The Death of University Arts Programs, Part 6

For years I have studied and commented on the crisis of relevance plaguing the visual arts. Malignant elitists are destroying the artistic experience, all the better to create a passive and befuddled populace. I’ve worked to expose the decadence and corruption of establishment art, but usually I’m analyzing distant events and actions. But now, I have a personal connection with an unfolding incident which perfectly illustrates the death throes of Postmodern culture. The destructive conflict playing out at one Virginia art school can be extrapolated out to changes that are taking place on a global scale.

This article from The College Fix lays out situation:

Students Demand “Complete Removal” of Professor even after the School Cleared Him of Racist Behavior

Virginia Commonwealth University officials suspended associate professor Javier Tapia last semester despite concluding that he did not racially discriminate against an unfamiliar black professor when he called security on her last fall. The decision prompted a lawsuit from Tapia and protests by students who want him fired.

Tapia, a Peruvian-born art professor who’s been at VCU since 1988, is heading to court in an attempt to force VCU to let him continue teaching while asking for $1 million in damages. A settlement conference is scheduled for June 11. Meanwhile, dozens of students have held campus protests to demand that Tapia be fired and that the school increase its diversity.

 

So a bunch of N-P-C students are demanding the firing of an Hispanic immigrant teacher in the name of “diversity.” The cognitive dissonance, it burns.

It’s shameful to see what’s become of my alma mater. I graduated from VCU, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking. I was there when Javier Tapia joined the staff. For one notable semester, he was my teacher. What I learned from him then, and what is happening to him now, is extremely educational, but not in the way you’d find in a syllabus.

It was a terrible experience when I studied painting with him in the early 1990s. I ended up basically teaching myself some powerful lessons. By opposing everything this misguided academician manifested, I ended up discovering my own way as an artist.

Javier had quickly built a reputation. Temperamental. Tough. Demanding. Aggressive even. His critiques were said to play out as fiery psychodramas, reducing hapless students to tears, counselling and changes of majors.

I signed up for this, on purpose. I was determined to learn artistic skills by traditional methods, trying to paint realistically from observation. This was not the trendy thing to do at VCU, which emphasized conceptual and abstract art. I was out of sync with most of the other students, who were producing slapdash experimental works. Despite my plodding development, I felt ready for a challenge. It didn’t go down like I expected it to, but then again, hardly anything ever does.

This was a studio class, meeting all day twice a week, all of us students painting together in a filthy classroom tucked away on the top floor of the gymnasium. The infamous group critiques only took place every few weeks. During typical sessions Javier would turn up late, after we had already started working. After depositing his satchel and coffee at the paint encrusted work table he used like a desk, he wandered around the room, selectively interacting with those who caught his interest.

I actually gained positive attention for the first class or two. I set up a still life I was working from: a collection of metal and wooden objects. Those first classes I was just doing what I considered the underpainting, laying in broad areas of color and vague suggestions of shapes, tinkering with the composition. I was working in greens and yellows for some reason, although nothing I was depicting was green or yellow. Knowing my own methods, I knew anything I laid down would ultimately be covered over as I refined the painting.

Javier was initially intrigued by the masses I was setting down, and visited with me several times on those days, curious about the direction I was going in. But as soon as I started to make decisions, drawing in the specific details and starting to nudge the picture towards realism, the interactions ceased. He preferred talking with the students whose works remained only broad areas of color and vague suggestions of shapes. Turns out he was a partisan for that aesthetic, and had no patience for other forms of expression.

Javier liked to have us all gather around his desk so he could lecture us. They weren’t actually so much lectures as they were harangues, delivered in tones of bitter disappointment. The topics were usually variations on how much better he had been than us, back when he too had been a mere student. We were expected to stand there while he monologued and just suck it up, waiting until he was done with us. Only then could we crawl back to our easels, beaten half senseless by his disapproval.

Finally the day came for our first group critique. It was just like I’d heard: hostile and belittling. The collective mind of the class took on the personae of the professor. We squared off like gladiators battling to the death, egged on by his imperious disdain. I actually got off pretty easy, only because when my turn came, Javier announced right up front he saw nothing in my still life. No one had much to say after that, and we rapidly moved on.

What Javier chose to linger over during that crit showed us what he was expecting from us all. His personal pet student was displaying a largish square canvas. During the initial weeks of the class this student had simply brushed the surface of this over and over with layers of thick brownish paint. Every now and then he’d draw in some geometric shapes, only to bury them under more impasto.

Apparently the pet wasn’t satisfied that this was enough texture, because he started to adhere ragged strips of torn canvas into the wet paint, plastering over them with more smears and gobs. The final result was an unsightly, scabrous beige void. This, according to Javier, was true painting. We probably spent three quarters of an hour verbally dissecting this masterpiece.

The ones who got it worst in this critique were those who were trying to work abstractly, but who fell short of Javier’s elusive standards. Why their work was worse than the clotted lump he praised I couldn’t tell you, but the instructor seemed to take their lesser efforts as a personal affront. He sicced the class on these students like a vicious pack; they in turn were gleeful at their chance to pass on the abuse they had been experiencing. It was an ugly display.

I’m familiar with the boot camp idea of tearing someone down in order to build them up into something new and better. Maybe this was the method Javier was going for, believing he was some kind of drill instructor of art.

However, the key component of this concept is the second part. Done effectively, the broken and rebuilt recruit should be in every way superior to the weak and naive shape they began in. Tough love is the secret fuel of drill instructor rage. The cruelty is actually compassion. The targeted viciousness awakens in others the toughness and strength that will be needed to survive dire circumstances.

But with Javier’s obligatory destination, his philosophy that paintings consist of incoherent mud and marks, to be served up with a lot of posturing, the end result was no improvement. It was ultimately a merely materialistic viewpoint he served, camouflaged with a lot of cranky analysis that lent a veneer of intellectualism. He was actually espousing a major strain of thinking in Modern art, advocating for a set of beliefs that had been in vogue since the early 20th century. In this school of painting, what was important was paint as a substance applied to a surface, and how blatantly it could be made to act like paint being applied to a surface.

Well, duh.

All Javier’s ill-tempered observations could be distilled to euphemisms for, and variations upon, “paint behaves like paint, but you aren’t making it fit my intellectual theories of paint-like behavior enough.” The professor’s emotional investment in this pedantic set of concerns was puzzling. He may have been intense, but what he was emphasizing was irremediably wrong.

What matters is not what paint is, but what it is used for.

After that first critique, the class meandered on, painting time interspersed with tongue lashings and bouts of mob savagery. Now about two thirds of the students were just wiping streaks and blobs onto their canvases, pandering for approval. They still got sliced and diced during the group discussions, all except for his canvas scrap golden boy, who could do no wrong.

I remained unpersuaded, and defiantly began another still life.

Javier made it clear I was a lost cause, and that kept the abuse directed at me brief. I just wasn’t worth talking about. The only comment he’d make to me during his classroom ambles was I needed better brushes. He said this several times. I understood he felt the problem was not actually my brushes, but what I was doing with them.

I’m glad I had my habitual punk nonconformity and suspicion of authority supporting me, otherwise I too might have ended up smearing paint around. But even though I was rejecting Javier’s priorities, it was still frustrating to be ignored. I was still so young, and so uncertain in many ways. I was basically left to teach myself, since he couldn’t be bothered or was not capable of guiding me on my own path as an artist. He just wanted everyone to do it his way. And for me, his way was a dull waste of time. But still, to labor under the hostility of someone so advanced in my chosen field caused great unease.

And then, I actually saw one of Javier’s paintings.

This was still pre-internet, or at least pre-my access to it. How different the world was, back when we did not instant access to information about everything and everyone! I had to wait until a faculty art exhibit to see Javier’s work. Strangely, he never shared it with us in class.

I turned out for the opening, a buzzing, energetic Friday night affair. I enjoyed the free pretzels sticks and cheese provided for the reception, but really was there for the art, to see the works of teachers current and past; I didn’t make a special point of looking for Javier’s piece. I was very surprised when I finally read his name on the title card under a large work on canvas.

His painting was inferior. Undistinguished, indistinguishable from the work of thousands of other contemporary painters-student painters included. A mass of orange with a few tentative streaks near the bottom. I can’t find an image of it, but it was of a comparable quality to this beauty I found on the web:

A Genuine Tapia 

Everything became clear. All the professor’s bombast and attitude was overcompensation for some very justifiable insecurity. His bluster was an attempt to conceal some extreme weakness. However, in painting, there is nowhere to hide.

Despite all Javier’s credentials, all that training, all those words, the preemptive strike of haughtiness he launched on us poor pupils, the domineering and disruptive dynamic he stirred up in his class, despite all that, he failed where it mattered most. When it came time to perform, and put brush to canvas, all the academician could manage was a sloppy blankness.

After witnessing the professor’s clichéd artifice on display for all to see, for the rest of the semester, whenever Javier went on his class room tirades, I listened with a smirk. Changes were happening in my art that amplified the hollow ring of his chest thumping, and rendered him even more irrelevant in my eyes. My patient discipline was starting to pay off on the canvas; I was discovering the visionary element that continues in my painting to this day, and I had achieved the technical skills to bring it out.

The coda of this special time was my final one-on-one critique with Javier at the end of the school year. Without his browbeat flunkies, he was subdued, sheepish even. I can imagine how difficult it was for him to have to talk directly with me. He had witnessed how I had completely disregarded his philosophy, but looking at my semester’s worth of paintings, the advances I made were unmistakable.

The professor muttered something about how my work had gone off in directions he had never expected it could. I think I responded with a blank stare that he was not willing to return. That was close to rapport as we ever came, and I took it for what it was worth. After all his hostility, I earned a B in the class. I considered this a major victory. I had a new direction to explore, new ideas to try out.

What I saw in this classroom back when I was young could been seen to represent the old school of the Leftism with dominates our institutions. The feeling of entitled power that comes along with a well-connected position of authority, defended with sophistry and attitude. But there is a new dynamic challenging the presumptions of the old guard, coming from the even further Left. A rabid, destructive element seeking to purge and plunder.

I didn’t approve of his ideas or methods. But what is happening now is just wrong. It is appalling how VCU has treated Javier Tapia during this controversy. Calling security on someone he thought was an out of place student would be a typically dick move from him, but it was just a simple misunderstanding. But grievance mongers got to monger, and now the Maoist mob wants blood, vengeance, and humiliation. The school found no racist intent, but that’s not good enough for the cultural arsonists. These chilling words from a student hack activist show the irrational totalitarian fantasies being nurtured in our institutes of higher learning:

“We 100% disagree with that conclusion. What many people fail to understand is that it is obviously technically impossible to prove someone did something because of the color of someone’s skin. It’s about embedded behaviors and implicit as opposed to explicit. It’s about the structures of this country and what principles this country and its institutions are built on.”

Of course the useless administrators have gone into the fetal position, and I don’t hold out much hope Javier’s career will survive this disgraceful injustice. I fundamentally disagree with him, but the right way to manifest opposition is by positive action of my own, not by driving for personal destruction.

As I describe in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

 

“Postmodernists will commit acts of senselessness and violence when top-down social pressure is applied. The Postmodernists have stolen the forms of religion to serve their aims. Original sin is now race, or carbon footprints. Indulgences can be purchased by reciting the catechisms of social justice. To prove loyalty to the cause, the SJWs eagerly throw blasphemers into the fire. Since they don’t know history, Postmodernists don’t see the predictable Marxist pattern that today’s obedient flock will be tomorrow’s barbecue.

The spiritual life of Postmodernism has been misdirected from transcendental and enduring values to ponderous politics. Nothing is sacred. There is no sense of continuity; only the needs of the moment matter. Where there should be a human spirit engaged with the eternal choice between good and evil, Postmodernists substitute slavish devotion to those who reduce morality to dominance.”

 

If there is actual justice-as opposed to the tyranny of phony collectivist social justice-Javier Tapia will be back teaching at VCU soon.

Who knows, maybe he will even learn how to paint.

 

Earlier entries in the “Death of University Art Programs” series

Part 1: Eric Fischl

Part 2: The Corcoran Collapse 

Part 3: Ignorance as a Method of Critique 

Part 4: The Subsidized Sedition of Establishment Art Schools

Part 5: Why Columbia Art Students Demanded Tuition Refunds

ARTISTS: Salvador Dali’s Surreal Christmas Cards

Ho Ho Ho my Gosh; ‘Tis the Season for Surrealism 

In 1960, before the visuals arts had withdrawn into their current status of hostile, insular irrelevance, greeting card benchmark Hallmark had an idea to bring people some culture for Christmas. 50 artists were featured on Hallmark Christmas cards, with the noble intention of sharing some Modern masters with the mass market. Along with staples like Norman Rockwell and Currier and Ives, more avant-garde figures like Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Paul Cezanne were presented.

One of the artists recruited was Surrealist Salvador Dali. The choice was not as strange as it might seem. He had already created a Christmas image for the cover of Vogue in 1948.

Dali’s Christmas Vogue Cover

For a flat fee of $15,000.00 and promises of complete artistic control, Dali produced a series of Yuletide images. Unfortunately, the executives at Hallmark decided he went a little TOO cultural for the tastes of the time, and only a few of his tamer paintings were used.

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Two of the Dali Images used: Tame compared to the others

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But now, thanks to the magic of the internet, we can enjoy some surrealism for the season. Here are some of Salvador Dali’s unused Christmas card pictures.

 

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Merry Christmas!

 

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Why Banksy’s Shredded Painting Gimmick Isn’t Actually Art

A Cunning Stunt: Banksy Strips 

 

There’s been a strange pantomime playing out over the news for the last couple of weeks. It’s brought rare mass audience attention to the bloated and corrupt establishment art market.

I’ve written about Banksy before, one the elite’s mascots. As stated in the previous article:

Perhaps English media figure Charlie Brooker summed it up best: Banksy gained such art world stature because “…his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots. And apparently that’ll do.”

 

So this anonymous artist supposedly pulls a prank at a glitzy auction, and partially shreds a work. We are meant to believe this was set up years before, and a blue chip auction house which specializes in archival handling of very expensive and fragile works of art managed to overlook a shredder embedded in a frame. Seems legit.

The picture itself is achingly banal. Finally, a work of art less insightful than an emoji.

She has a sadz 

It’s not even drawn well. It’s like she’s got a stubby little Tyrannosaurus claw right arm.

Due to the publicity stunt of the shredding, now this piece is worth even more than the final purchase price of over a million pounds. Almost as if the “surprise” maneuver was a calculated bid to drive up prices, and everyone was in on it:

 

“Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one,” Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art Alex Branczik wrote. “Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled ‘Love is in the Bin,’ the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”

The anonymous buyer felt similarly, based on a quote given to Sotheby’s.

“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked,” the buyer said, “but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”

I would suggest that, while the buyer has purchased a curiosity produced in this particular historical era, it’s not actually art history we’re talking about here. Art did not partake in this gag.

To misquote a decent 1990s scifi action movie:

What if I told you everything you’ve been told about about art by the establishment is a lie?

Whoa 

The Postmodern elites don’t want people to have the experience of genuine art. Real art could incite individuals to manifest pesky traits like free will, idealism, and spiritual awakening. So a false version of art is hyped by the powerful, something that will keep the people befuddled and indoctrinated. Banksy is one of their henchmen, a willing cog in the disinformation machinery.

I wonder if Banksy is a mere individual, or more of a group effort. His pictures and shenanigans all have an odor of decision by committee about them. It would probably take a lot a groupthink to come up with such insipid offerings

With the fawning collusion of the media and establishment art world, Banksy gets to have his cake and eat it too. He gets to play anti-capitalist activist while selling shoddy products for millions. His globe trotting graffitied works are supposed to impart street cred, and conceptual anti-commercialism. But the same generic stencils are easily put onto canvases and sold off to the highest bidders. What is being bought isn’t the art, but a perverse species of ostentatious prestige.

Banksy’s content is the same old leftist slant that already monopolizes government, the media, technology companies, academia, corporate boardrooms, and the culture industries. How is Banksy supposed to be a rebel when he does nothing but echo the party line? His stuff is graceless propaganda, less nuanced than an editorial cartoon.

Banksy socks it to the running dog imperialist orange man!

Just like absolutely everyone else who is allowed to share opinions on a public platform. 

Banksy is a Non Player Character entity who  disseminates mindless graphics  instead of mindless chants. His followers claim he is speaking truth to power when all he does is reinforce the typical establishment narratives. He’s made himself rich while pretending to be down with the proletariat. It takes a deep coating of cognitive dissonance to be able overlook that festering mass of doublethink.

But most of all, Banksy is a name brand selling a product that has the psychical characteristics of art, but is not really art at all. He offers artifice, an approximation of art  that does not actually deliver on art’s most important aspects. He simply does not provide a credible artistic experience.

Banksy’s mock art displays no personality. It does not display advanced achievements in craftsmanship. It does not suggest a meaningful philosophy. It is not unique. It lacks real emotional resonance, spiritual awareness, a sense of contemplation. There is no awe, no sustainable experience at all, just a one liner summary of social engineering tropes. This type of empty, soulless junk is what the elitists have propped up to act as a decoy away from actual creative efforts.

The time has come, when our ruling class tries to shove an inert narrative down our throats and tells us it is art, that we shred their presumptive authority.

In my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I describe how contemporary art has been weaponized into an assault on the culture:

“Unfortunately, a substantial disconnect exists between the widely held respect for art, and the alienation most serious contemporary art evokes when actually encountered.

Instead of being reverenced as a communion for all, contemporary art is being treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes. Officially sanctioned art is all too often based on theoretical formal matters and sociological notions designed to exclude, rather than engage, the general public.

Practically no one is paying attention to contemporary art other than a small bubble of artists, academics, cultural institution apparatchiks, trophy-hunting high rollers, and those who wish to vicariously participate in presumed sophistication.

Any art from outside this tight little cabal is treated as non-existent. Through their powers of finance and institutional control, this self-serving, out-of-touch elite presume to dictate art matters for the entire world.”

 

Banksy’s shredded painting is not art, but a con game, just another sting operation of the Big Store swindle.

It does, however, make for a nifty topical Halloween costume.

 

COMMENTARY: The Postmodern Establishment Wants to Exterminate the Experience of Art

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.

jk
Jeff Koons: A Pile of Inadequacy  

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Banksy: Know Your Place, Peasants 

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damien-hirst-shark
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.