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.

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Jeff Koons: A Pile of Inadequacy  

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Banksy: Know Your Place, Peasants 

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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. 

 

 

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COMMENTARY: Jeff Koons and the Establishment Art World’s Condescending Cult

 

Play D’oh! A Jeff Koons Pile of “Art” 

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“It’s a commercial world, and morality is based generally around economics, and that’s taking place in the art gallery.”

-Jeff Koons

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Part of what I want this blog to do is expose certain notorious figures of the commercialized contemporary art world to a new audience.

I’d like to help educate all you good people who, up until now, have been uninterested, alienated, or even hostile to the efforts of today’s networked creative classes, and their deep-pocketed supporters.

From what I see, the potential audience of the disengaged is practically everyone in entire world.

Elitist malfeasance has marginalized the visual arts in popular culture. Practically no one is paying attention to contemporary art other than a small bubble of artists, academics, institution apparatchiks, trophy-hunting high rollers, and those who wish to vicariously participate in their presumed sophistication.

Since most people have tuned out the shenanigans of this arrogant, decadent band of charlatans, you might be unaware of what the art world racket has been producing. You haven’t been missing much.

In this example, we have a major perpetrator of the corrupt art world status quo: Jeff Koons.

What’s up Doc? A Long Eared Galoot, and one of his Sculptures  

Throughout his career, Jeff Koons has racked up approximately $765 million dollars in sales. He does not make the pieces sold under his brand name. The actual work is done by anonymous skilled craftsmen. Koons contributes “concepts” that others execute.

And what kind of ideas has this mogul graced us with that have generated such windfalls? Treasures such as these:

Jeff Koons, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” 

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Awww

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Jeff Koons, Poseur 

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Koons may be best known for a series of giant stainless steel replicas of balloon animals. An orange version of one sold for over $58 million. 

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Over inflated: Wiener Dog Art 

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Then there was the era in the 1990s when Koons married Cicciolina, an Italian XXX film performer. Koons commissioned a whole series of artworks featuring the couple engaging in hardcore sexytime action  (Warning: link is definitely NSFW). They were divorced in 1998; I can’t imagine why.

 

A PG-13 Version of Koons and His Porn Star Wife 

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Not everything is coming up inflatable tulips for the crafty con artist, however. Koons graciously offered to donate a monument to France for the victims of the  2015 terrorist attack: a 35 foot tall hand holding balloon flowers. He graciously expected them to install it next to the Eiffel Tower. The French not so graciously rejected this blatant attempt at product placement. Negotiations are ongoing.

 

An Indecent Proposal

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One of the top selling artists of this era of art specializes in obscenely expensive replicas of cheap toys, gimmicks, and smut. So what is the significance of this?

To understand, you need to look at one of the foundational conceits of art world elitism: the Marxist tinged struggle between the avant-gard and kitsch.

These terms rose to prominence in a 1939 essay by art critic Clement Greenberg. A devotee of the leftist Frankfurt School, Greenberg propounded his contempt for popular American culture. In my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I explain Greenberg’s assertions:

“…he claimed the cultural world could be divided in two. The avant-garde (a military term referring to strike force troops, who go ahead of the main army) were forward-thinking sophisticates, whose radical creations were driven by a contempt for the tacky tastes of the general public.

“To Greenberg, the common people were too ignorant to appreciate the rarefied efforts of the avant-garde; these backwards types could only appreciate kitsch (a German word used for low quality art), a phony vision of art which tugged at middle class sensations like beauty, patriotism, and sentimental feelings. A Norman Rockwell painting on the cover of a popular magazine was the kind of thing that could make an intellectual like Greenberg retch.

“Greenberg declared, ‘…part of Western bourgeois society has produced something unheard of heretofore: avant-garde culture. A superior consciousness of history—more precisely, the appearance of a new kind of criticism of society, an historical criticism—made this possible.’ The consciousness Greenberg refers to as ‘superior’ just happens to be his own, as he proceeded over the next few decades presumptively acting as the ultimate authority on art.”

So how did the art world move from rejecting the tawdry stylings of disposable popular culture to glorifying them?

The secret is the art world cosmopolitans are still dripping with contempt towards most of humanity. What has been added is the soul sucking Postmodern gambit of irony. By celebrating the tacky, elitists are actually mocking their straw man version of what “ordinary” people are capable of. Our New Aristocracy of the Well Connected disrespect the intelligence and capacities of all those whose lives don’t revolve around relentless elitist status signalling contests.

They assume that all we can appreciate is tawdry junk, and so they are having a patronizing laugh at us by spending millions on art that carefully reproduces…tawdry junk. Now it’s avant garde to clone kitsch, which makes it totally different because of reasons. Isn’t it ironic?

If you think that sounds dumb, you would be right. Welcome to the inverse values of the nasty Postmodern world, where our betters try to force us to accept that bad is good and stupid is clever.

This isn’t about the money. The finances are just a side show for most art world participants. Big league art deals are exercises in money laundering, tax evasion, and insider trading, but not that many get into that high roller category. What is most concerning is what it says about those controlling our cultural expressions.

The real perk for most establishment art types is a sense of superiority. Supporting a hoax substitute for art gets converted into the gold of social prestige through the alchemy of Postmodern dogma. It’s yet another proof that our current crop of cultural elitists are really not advanced at all.

Elitists hype outsourced and infantile art because of their own limitations. They lack depth and real achievement themselves, so they can’t tell the difference. They embrace this failure of character as a badge of honor, and mandatory for admission to their tribe.

What Postmodern charlatans have been pushing for decades isn’t even art at all. It’s artifice, an empty mimicry of the outer appearances and gestures of art, without partaking of any of its true substance and significance.

The good news is Postmodernism is dead. It no longer captures the new dynamic spirit of the age. As I state in the upcoming Remodern America Manifesto:

“Postmodernism shows the folly which erupts when the spiritual center of life is denied. Shifting focus away from the soul gave rise to an art world floundering in obscurity, destruction, pornography, propaganda, excrement and carrion. Contemporary establishment art is treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes, and a decadent toy for the wealthy.”

The art done in the name of Jeff Koons typifies this hostile positioning. Its cuteness is a sneer at what suckers we are. The species of cultural rot inspired by Marcel Duchamp has become such a tired trope.

Remodern art restores respect for the general audience, and their abilities to have profound experiences. Remodernists understand art is for everyone. We can all be stirred by beauty, moved by emotional expressions, and gratified by the experience of truth. Western civilization used to understand how art provided those uplifting states. Our current cultural institutions largely fail to produce these positive outcomes; instead they want to pretend a multi-million dollar imitation of a party trick is good enough for us dolts. They are wrong.

The Remodern age will be the story of the dismantling of centralized power. An arts establishment which claims a sarcastic marketing scheme is a major artistic achievement is a juicy target for serious reforms.

Jeff Koons: Having a Ball 

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit others posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

1917: A Shattering Discovery From The Year Art Went Into The Toilet

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What happened to R. Mutt’s “Fountain”?

For the last few days, inside the cocoons, there is much shock. As out-of-touch elitists in the would-be ruling class are processing an historic rejection of their presumptions, it’s worth revisiting a defining and divisive moment in elitist art history.

Recently, in some random reading I was doing, I came across a surprising story that may actually solve a genuine art world mystery.

I’m very critical of the nihilistic stylings of the contemporary establishment art market. I’ve written at length on its dynamic as both an elaborate con game and as an insidious effort at social programming and control.  Conceptual Art is the official art of the New World Order. Talentless cynics like Jeff Koons and Tracey Emin are promoted as pinnacles of achievement, and showered with elitist money and accolades. These conceptual artists claim that just having an idea is good enough to be considered art, as long as the right people agree.

The conceit of conceptual art, like most of the abuses of this decadent Post Modern era, comes from a thirst for power. Anything can be art if the gatekeepers say it is, and you better submit to their superior opinions. Contemporary art has become a wedge, a means for primitive tribal virtue signalling. You can divide the population up based on savvy insiders who prattle on about a dirty, unmade bed in a museum as a fascinating comment on normative functionalism, versus those mundane types who recognize a feeble failure when they see it.

A certain segment of the glitterati like to flaunt their ability to see shit as sophisticated art as a badge of honor, for some reason.

We are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the totem these poseurs use as credibility for their if-it’s-in-a-gallery-it-must-be-art attitudes. In April 1917, New York City’s Society of Independent Artists had an egalitarian idea for an art show: anyone who paid the fee could show their art, which would be hung in alphabetical order. But the organizers were shocked when they received an anonymous submission, called “Fountain.” It was a sideways urinal, signed “R. Mutt 1917.”

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Marcel Duchamp, sporting a reverse mohawk

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One of the organizers was French artist Marcel Duchamp. When the committee balked at showing the urinal he resigned in a huff. Years later he spread it around that it was actually his piece.”Fountain” was a Dada assault on taste, a rejection of artistic skill, an undermining of the noble purposes of art. Duchamp and his advocates like to say it poses philosophical questions about what art is. Regardless, the piece can be seen as the harbinger of the whole empty, alienating, transgressive mess the contemporary art world has become. “Fountain” has been used as the justification for turning art into an ironic elitist assertion, rather than an uplifting communal experience. It’s a truly nasty legacy.

But did Duchamp even make the piece? Evidence suggests he stole credit for the piece from a female artist, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, an wildly eccentric friend of his. She was part artist and part public nuisance, an exhibitionist, kleptomaniac and poet, who often dressed herself in food and utensils. The urinal would have been just her style.

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The real R. Mutt? Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

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On April 11, 1917, Duchamp wrote in a letter to his sister: “One of my female friends who had adopted the pseudonym Richard Mutt sent me a porcelain urinal as a sculpture; since there was nothing indecent about it, there was no reason to reject it.” So it seems while he may have submitted it to the show, Duchamp was not the one who came up with this iconic gesture. By the time Duchamp started to claim “Fountain” as his own, the mentally ill Baroness was long dead and forgotten.

It would match Duchamp’s character to perform such a swindle; he lived his adult life sponging off of, using, and abusing a series of women. He really was a cad.

It is so fitting the impetus of our contemporary establishment art world is most likely based on lies, theft, corruption and exploitation. But the originator of the piece is not the mystery I’m writing about.

What happened to the original “Fountain”?

Avant-garde gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz snapped a picture of it, but we are told the original was lost. The versions of “Fountain” now on display in museums around the world are “replicas” Duchamp commissioned in the 1960s to cash in on the notorious reputation of the piece.

I just found a surprising clue to what happened to “Fountain” in an unexpected place, while I was reading about a very different type of artist.

William Glackens (March 13, 1870 – May 22, 1938) was a significant painter in the early decades of the 2oth century. He got his start as an artist journalist. Before there were photographs in newspapers, illustrators had to create the imagery. They had to work fast, and since they were covering the news, they were used to depicting the common people as opposed to esoteric artistic subject matter. Glackens’s most notable journalistic work occurred in 1898, when he accompanied Theodore Roosevelt’s troops to Cuba during the Spanish American War.

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William Glackens artwork from the field of battle

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After he left journalism, Glackens continued to make an art of the people, as compared to an art of the Academy. He was a key figure of the early American art movements The Eight and The Ashcan School, realist painters that rebelled against the stuffy elitist attitudes of the art establishment of their era. Glackens and his colleagues were considered controversial and gauche at the time for their depictions of everyday life.

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William Glackens “The Shoppers”

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I love reading artist biographies. So when I was recently at the library and saw on the shelf William Glackens and the Eight: The Artists Who Freed American Art, I was very excited. I knew about him and the Ashcan School, and I see the art movement Remodernism as fulfilling a similar role for artistic renewal now.

The book is by his son Ira Glackens, written in 1957. It is full of amusing and affectionate anecdotes about both of his parents; William was married to socialite and artist Edith Dimock. She is the central figure depicted in the painting of the shoppers above.

As William Glackens was one of the most important artists of his day, he was involved in many major events. I was thrilled when Ira Glackens wrote about when he was a little boy, during the legendary 1913 Armory Show that introduced Modern Art to America. He met visionary painter Albert Pinkham Ryder there, one of my favorite artists. But I was stunned when he recounted a story about 1917.

William Glackens was the president of the Society of Independent Artists committee that received “Fountain.” Another artist on the committee along with Duchamp was Charles Prendergast. Here are Ira’s words about how the  “Fountain”  situation was resolved:

It would be difficult to visualize W.G. [William Glackens] in an executive capacity, but nevertheless he proved a very valuable man, especially when an impasse was reached. The story of how he solved a great dilemma that confronted the executive committee was later told by Charles Prendergast, and he laughed so hard telling it that the tears ran down his cheeks… Everybody perhaps knows the story of the “Fountain” signed R. Mutt, a nom de guerre of Marcel Duchamp which the creator of the “Nude Descending a Staircase” submitted as his entry. This object was a urinal, a heavy porcelain affair meant to be a fixture, and it caused a great deal of dismay in the executive committee…The executive committee stood around discussing the thorny problem. Presumably the best art brains in the country were stumped.

Nobody noticed W.G. leave the group and quietly make his way to a corner where the disputed object d’ art sat on the floor beside a screen. He picked it up, held it over the screen, and dropped it. There was a crash. Everyone looked around startled.

“It broke!” he exclaimed.

By the 1950s when this book was written Duchamp had appropriated credit for “Fountain,” but it had not yet become the cultural touchstone it is now considered. I see no reason why Ira Glackens would just invent a story like that, or why their family friend and fellow artist Charles Prendergrast would say such a thing about the mild mannered and low key William Glackens for no reason.

We now have some hearsay evidence about what happened to the original “Fountain,” which has been overlooked for decades. There’s no way to prove it, but it’s a compelling conclusion to a sordid tale. As far as I’m concerned, William Glackens was on the right track and did the world a favor. If only it had ended there.

The pissy head games of elitist art need smashing, now more than ever.

11/22: Welcome Instapundit readers! Check out some of my other posts to see more about the state of the arts from a Remodernist perspective. -RB

ARTICLE: The Art World’s Destructive, Defensive Irony

Irony

 

LETTING THE FEEBLE PRETEND THEY DON’T CARE: Irony is Ruining Our Culture

Edgar Rice Burroughs has a line in “The Land That Time Forgot” that I didn’t fully understand when I read it as a child, but which I never forgot: “‘I don’t like irony,’ she said; ‘it indicates a small soul.'”

Little did I know that phrase would come to define the days I find myself living in, or that small souled, demeaning irony would become the default position of the very cultural institutions that are supposed to act as the caretakers of the experience of art.

Hardly anyone outside the creative class bubble pays any attention to the shenanigans being committed in the commercial contemporary art world. Those who do check out recent offerings in a gallery or museum quickly realize they haven’t been missing anything.

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Jeff Koon’s Balloons, inflated by more than hot air

Sad Shower in New York 1995 by Tracey Emin born 1963

“Sad Shower in New York” by Royal Academy Professor of Drawing Tracey Emin. Sad indeed.

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst: Again with the taxidermied animals assembled by someone else-but now with a toilet!

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Christopher Wool “Apocalypse Now” sold for $26.5 million. The apocalypse would be a relief at this point

What a massive failure of vision and purpose our establishment steered our culture into!

To embrace irony is to strike a pose of groundless superiority, to think social status is demonstrated by a jaded attitude. Like many attempts at bluffing and bullying, it is a defensive posture intended to hide tangible weaknesses. Isn’t that ironic?

Irony is the philosophy of sour grapes. Those who feel incapable of producing something with skill, meaning and significance like to act like they don’t want those achievements manifested in their works. But even worse, and more treacherous, to preserve their façade they must suppress and undermine the works of others who are striving towards some higher purpose or accomplishment. Sophisticated poseurs can tolerate no reminder of their own shortcomings. Irony is a form of passive-aggressive envy.


Key questions in the David Foster Wallace article: “So, to be more nuanced about what’s at stake: In the present moment, where does art rise above ironic ridicule and aspire to greatness, in terms of challenging convention and elevating the human spirit? Where does art build on the best of human creation and also open possibilities for the future? What does inspired art-making look like?”


The principles of Remodernism address these questions. We can take the divisive explorations of Modernism and redeem them, reintegrate the fragments shorn against our ruin into a healthy and fulfilling human act.  


It’s an exciting time to be an artist, and help the world move past the self-serving decadence the self-proclaimed elites cultivate. It’s time to call the bluffs, stand up to the bullying, and put the perpetrators to the test. Can their art survive outside the privileged cloisters they huddle in?