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: The Rotten Apple Didn’t Fall Far From the Tree-The Obnoxious Art of Lena Dunham’s Father (Sort of NSFW)

Daddy’s Girl: Lena and Carroll Dunham 

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“I’ve looked a lot at Picasso and read a lot about him, and I think he was having a good time at different points. There’s humor in that work—there’s no question—but to me it’s a byproduct of something else that’s much more ruthless and cold. Like the humor of a psychopath [laughs].”

-Caroll Dunham

 

I know about Lena Dunham against my will.

I’ve never sought out information about this marginal, unstable pop culture player, and yet at least every couple of months Lena Dunham floats to the surface of the news stream, and I have to hear more about her. The establishment media needed a role model to codify the Millennial generation as feckless narcissists and vicious virtue signallers, and Lena fits that job description perfectly. One of the latest breaking reports about her involved how she broke a fingernail while doing some intimate grooming. I resent that my brain was forced to ponder how such a thing could even happen.

My rejection of her ongoing presence isn’t about her looks, although a big part of Lena’s shtick involves a weird blend of exhibitionism and a push/pull of inadequately repressed self-loathing. It’s Lena Dunham’s character that is concerning.

She follows the Postmodern prescription that untalented celebrities can polish their resumes by strident political posturing. Pretty much no one watched her main claim to fame, the cancelled HBO show Girls. As Entertainment Weekly noted in 2017, at the beginning of its poorly rated last season, “Girls is basically the quintessential media bubble show — hugely loud in pop culture chatter compared to its actual viewership.” The reason an unpopular show like Girls gets hyped is because the parties involved can be counted on to broadcast the approved partisan agenda.

And yet away from the predictable policy positions and politicians she monotonously and shrilly advocates, Lena Dunham makes an effective case for leftism as a mental disorder, a justification for some reprehensible behavior. Lots of Dunham’s press coverage is actually negative fallout from the latest landmine she stepped on. Dunham has tried to fire up internet hate mobs by making dubious accusations about thought crimes by a couple of airline stewardesses. She smeared a former college associate with groundless rape accusations, then went on to publicly betray the #Metoo movement when they came at one of her pals. She abandoned a pet and then followed up with a borderline bestiality tweet. Perhaps most notorious was her “comedic” take on how during childhood she molested her younger sister. “Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl, I was trying,” she joked. Ha ha.

How does her sister Grace respond to the disclosure? She insists there was no problems. Oh, and by the way, Grace is now a non-binary gender identifying queer activist and performance artist, because of course she is. Sounds like the outcome of a totally healthy upbringing. Which brings us to their daddy: aging New York hipster and painter Carroll Dunham.

My wife Michele Bledsoe often states the art an artist makes shows who they are. So who would you say Carroll Dunham is, after looking at a few examples of his art?

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In 2010, the critic David Pagel summed it up in a review:

“Carroll Dunham makes paintings that not even a mother could love. Vulgar beyond belief, his super-crude depictions of a naked woman crawling through a cartoon landscape border on vicious.

“It’s easy to see why many people find them offensive, demeaning and disgusting, as well as mean-spirited, malicious and horrific. They are all that and more. Much, much more.”

But this is the establishment art world we’re talking about here. Pagel clarifies the approved response in his next sentence:

“Dunham’s new oils on canvas are the best works the 61-year-old New Yorker has made.”

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

“Behold the moronic masterpieces selected and elevated by our utterly corrupted and compromised institutions. This list could go on and on, full of examples of irrelevance, carrion, excrement, pornography, and debris.

“This is the elite’s idea of what is significant in our culture. This is what the establishment is stocking our museums with. This is our self-aggrandizing ruling class’s tawdry and nihilistic vision of life, being inflicted upon us all.

“They are trying to remake the world in their own rotten image. They’ve weaponized art into an assault on the foundations of civilization itself. We can call this assault Postmodernism, a philosophy which is explored in detail later in this book.”

I wasn’t talking specifically about Caroll Dunham in the quote above, but the shoe fits him like he was Cinderella.

Now I have no issue with art taking on intense subject matter and mature themes. It must. Contemporary painters like Eric Fischl may specialize in the dark, seamy and sexual, but skilled artistry can transcend the tawdriness.

Nor do I have an issue with extreme stylization in artwork. It was one of  Modernism’s powerful contributions to art’s expressive power; as far back as the Nabi art movement of the 1800s, artists experimented with flatness and simplification as a means for conveying an otherworldly experience.

No, the problem with the art of Carroll Dunham is its poor quality. It’s a Postmodern mishmash of graffiti, dehumanizing identity politics, emoji style perversity and  predictable coloration. I’ve seen more effectively rendered scrawls in public bathroom stalls. The paintings of Carroll Dunham are unfocused, sloppy, cheap, and redundant. Despite their brazen imagery, they are so poorly realized I’m not even sure they count as “not safe for work.”

The existing establishment is well stocked with sociopaths. Perhaps no where can we find stronger visual confirmation of this than the contemporary art market. For the Dunhams, producing lousy art propped up in the service of  pathological elitist oikophobia is the family business.

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Say Cheese! Carroll Dunham Exposed 

 

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! Check out other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

COMMENTARY: Establishment Art’s Ingrained Indoctrination and the Postmodern Manifesto

EDIT: March 23, 2018. I’m so excited, we are going to see Jordan Peterson speak on June 1. He’s done much to expose Postmodern corruption in the culture. In honor of the upcoming event, I’m reposting a previous essay on the topic. 

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Maurizio Cattelan “L.O.V.E.” marble, 36′

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“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?'”

-David Foster Wallace, Postmodern novelist

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The quote above does a good job converting the rhetorical question “Does a fish know it is is wet?” into a lightly amusing anecdote, a brief fable which delivers its twist ending of wisdom as if it were the punchline for a joke. What’s not so funny is the truth that the story demonstrates, and its implications for the state of our civilization today.

To understand the crisis we find ourselves in, it’s instructive to look at the cultural assumptions and preferences of our so-called ruling classes. Their presumptions can be tracked based on the visual art they collude to promote and subsidize. The contemporary art market is another weapon in their arsenal, a way they can inflict their will on society in the form of punishment, disorder, degradation, divisiveness, and heavy handed instruction.

In the recent past George Orwell was able to advance an accurate definition: “Liberal: a power worshipper without power.” But what happened in the meantime was the forces of liberalism/progressivism/Marxism/whatever-they’re-calling-themselves-now-ism managed to drag the cultural focus onto favorable terrain for themselves. Our would-be masters have woven a make-believe world where their particular skill sets dominate; for decades their influence has metastasized throughout our institutions. Art just happens to be a field where it’s easy to see the damage they’ve caused. We are enmeshed in the Matrix-like reign of a toxic philosophy which can referred to by the ambiguous term Postmodernism.

It seems so simple, just a description for what happened after the Modern age. Even though many people still refer to any recent baffling example of artistic excess as Modern art, the underlying principles that made art (and by extension our culture) Modern have been dead since the 1960s. Postmodernist thought started in academia, but has since bled out so its dogma now dominates our politics, media, and especially the arts.

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Barbara Kruger “Belief & Doubt” installation, The Hirshhorn Gallery, Washington D.C.

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I’ve written before on how elitists push this ideology because it makes an effective tool of oppression. To be Postmodern is to be relativistic, cynical, narcissistic, and conformist. For those who might question such an interpretation, we are fortunate to have a document found posthumously among the papers of one of the leading advocates of this world view,  French writer Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004). Hugely influential amongst those susceptible to such pedantic banter, he pretty much summed up his accomplishments with this quote: “I’m no good for anything except taking the world apart and putting it together again (and I manage the latter less and less frequently).”

Derrida left behind a statement that bluntly summarizes the intentions of Postmodernism. I would suggest these days his ideas are like the water that we fish are ignorant of; propaganda so widely disbursed and unquestioned it’s invisible to us, even as we move through it, and are carried along by its flow.

Here is Derrida’s manifesto of Postmodernism: read it, and weep. Afterwards I give my thoughts on some of its precepts, and how I see us getting out of this mess.

Manifeste

1. The art of the past is past. What was true of art yesterday is false today.

2. The Postmodern art of today is defined and determined, not by artists, but by a new generation of curators, philosophers and intellectuals ignorant of the past and able to ignore it.

3. Postmodernism is a political undertaking, Marxist and Freudian.

4. Postmodernism is a new cultural condition.

5. Postmodernism is democratic and allied to popular culture.

6. Postmodernism denies the possibility of High Art.

7. Postmodernism deconstructs works of High Art to undermine them.

8. Postmodernism is subversive, seditiously resembling the precedents it mimics.

9. Postmodern art is pastiche, parody, irony, ironic conflict and paradox.

10. Postmodern art is self-consciously shallow, stylistically hybrid, ambiguous, provocative and endlessly repeatable.

11. Postmodern art is anti-elitist, but must protect its own elitism.

12. To the Postmodernist every work of art is a text, even if it employs no words and has no title, to be curatorially interpreted. Art cannot exist before it is interpreted.

13. Postmodernist interpretation depends on coining new words unknown and unknowable to the masses, on developing a critical jargon of impenetrable profundity, and on a quagmire of theory with which to reinforce endowed significance. Vive le Néologisme!

Long live the new word-ism? No thanks. we’ve had more than enough.

Some comments:

“The art of the past is past. What was true of art yesterday is false today.”

Says who? No one I recognize as any kind of authority.

“The Postmodern art of today is defined and determined, not by artists, but by a new generation of curators, philosophers and intellectuals ignorant of the past and able to ignore it.”

This plays into the Leftist conceit of the New Class: that in the Utopia to come, Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others, and they get to call the shots. It is the dream of every progressive to join this most favored status clique.

To deny history is to deny any accountability for their achievements, any objective measure of their performance. So self-serving.

“Postmodernism is a political undertaking, Marxist and Freudian.”

Of course it is. The culture must be sacrificed to avenge their feelings of envy and inadequacy.

“Postmodernism denies the possibility of High Art.”

They deny it because they lack the means to accomplish it. Sour grapes.

“Postmodern art is self-consciously shallow, stylistically hybrid, ambiguous, provocative and endlessly repeatable.”

Real art is deep enough to support extended contemplation. It makes a definitive presence. Ambiguity is wishy washy compared to evoking enduring Mystery. To provoke is a minor reaction compared to inspiring. There is a magic inherent in the unique object made by human hands, heart, and mind working in conjunction each other.

Post modern art basically fails to actually function as art in every significant way.

“Postmodern art is anti-elitist, but must protect its own elitism.”

Postmodernists attempt to deny judgement, ratings of quality and effectiveness, because their own offerings are so feeble. The elitism they draw upon is the status in the herd, the correct observations of the obligatory declarations of loyalty and subservience to the hive mind, and the opportunity to bask in the reflected glory of their controllers.

“Postmodernist interpretation depends on coining new words unknown and unknowable to the masses, on developing a critical jargon of impenetrable profundity, and on a quagmire of theory with which to reinforce endowed significance…”

Real intelligence actually communicates very clearly and concisely. What the Postmodernist suggests is like mumbling to hide the fact you don’t know the answers. This world of sophistry and distraction is crumbling. The elitists are panicking, and attempting to convert their minions into shock troops to protect the status quo hierarchy.

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From Banksy, the anonymous millionaire creator of half-baked editorial cartoons 

The perpetrators of Postmodernism have gone beyond parody with their ridiculous posing, but it’s no longer harmless. From on high, the supplicants of the art world are receiving their orders: the culture must stop changing so the current power brokers remain in charge.

The obedient little fishes synchronize swim down the polluted stream issuing from practically every channel, doing the bidding of smug social media giants, partisan networks, repressive universities, biased newspapers, establishment politicians, empty headed celebrities, corrupt Hollywood, despotic foreign governments, and compromised corporations.

At the same time the little fishes flatter themselves that they are brave rebels, fighting the power. That’s what their masters are telling them that they are.

That disconnect takes an especially determined kind of ignorance.

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Exhibit A: Shia Lebeouf, being divisive

There is already a sound artistic philosophy ready to take the place of the defeated dead end of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is a reboot of the culture. It takes the energy, vitality and exuberance of the Modern era and integrates art back into the mainstream. Remodernism reverences art as a means to bring communion and connection. Billy Childish and Charles Thomson created an open source art movement which is in perfect sync with this new era of renewal.

Come on in, the water’s fine.

 “Remodernism discards and replaces Post-Modernism because of its failure to answer or address any important issues of being a human being.”

-Billy Childsh and Charles Thomson, The Remodernist Manifesto

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

 

ART QUOTES: Do the Work, Part 3

See ART QUOTES: Do The Work, Part 1 Here

See ART QUOTES: Do The Work, Part 2 Here

William Blake “The Song of Los” 

To create a little flower is the labour of ages.

-William Blake

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John Singer Sargent, “Carolus-Duran”

Mine is the horny hand of toil.

-John Singer Sargent

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Fernando Botero “The Family” 

My work is a self-portrait of my mind, a prism of my convictions.

-Fernando Botero

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Georges Braque: Atelier VIII is a summation of everything Braque had learned about art during his long life.

Georges Braque “Atelier VIII”

One day I noticed that I could go on working my art motif no matter what the weather might be. I no longer needed the sun, for I took my light everywhere with me. 

-Georges Braque

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Odilon Redon, “The Cyclops” 

The good work proceeds with tenacity, intention, without interruption, with an equal measure of passion and reason and it must surpass that goal the artist has set for himself. 

-Odilon Redon 

EXPLOITS: The Case of the Condescending Curator

*Update: Richard Bledsoe will be offline for an extended period due to an unexpected medical situation. I am Richard’s wife, Michele Bledsoe – and for the interim I will act as his hands and eyes. 

The following is a section from a major work-in-progress about art and culture Richard is writing. 

“It’s a fashionable world and even good artists go out of fashion.”

-Robert Storr, art world academician 

 

Through my early art school days in 1980s, while I focused on keeping up in classes and learning about the distant geniuses of the past, I was less knowledgeable about contemporary art. Although I was highly engaged with cultural interests, I didn’t know a lot about the art world yet. My punk habit lent itself more to musical trends, and film operates in an entirely different realm than the rarefied atmosphere of the art gallery.

It was my second year studying painting when consciousness of the dominant contemporary visual art scene started to seep in.

First of all, I was surprised to learn in my painting and drawing courses that painting was, in fact, dead.

To understand the logic of that idea requires understanding that the institutional art world is a fashion victim. Despite the airs of conviction and sophistication participants in the arts like to flaunt, the reality is many of them are desperate followers of trends, fads and cliques.

In this particular era when I was at Virginia Commonwealth University, the correct jaded and ironic pose to strike was that painting had run its course as an art form, that it was exhausted and had nothing left to say. We were meant to be embracing new means of expression.

In the early 1990s, while I was still at college, VCU imported a genuine New York museum curator for a lecture to demonstrate this for us. All that traditional stuff was passé, he inferred. He had seen the future; in fact he’d be one of the ones who got pick what the future would be. He was doing all us Virginia hicks a favor by coming to give us the inside scoop.

And what was the glorious destiny of the art world to come, according to this bigwig?

That’s right: political installation art!

If you don’t know what political installation art is, you probably haven’t been in a gallery or a museum for the last thirty years. This curator and others of his ilk created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Under their stewardship every serious arts venue has become saturated with various forms of propaganda instead of art. Political installations indeed became the future of art, because that’s precisely what the few people entrusted to make the decisions about such things for our entire culture wanted to happen. They were partisans for the Postmodern corruption of the arts.

A recent example of what happens when “art” gets political 

During his lecture at us, the curator displayed a series of slides. I forget exactly what they depicted; they were recent works from some Biennale or something. What the pictures showed were rooms full of trash, misplaced mundane objects, and pointless aggregations of random items.

Fortunately the New York intellectual was there to translate for us, explaining how what we were seeing were not presentations of craftless junk, but Important Statements on homelessness, nuclear disarmament, and gender roles.

I left this lecture baffled yet angry. If painting was dead, what the hell was VCU charging all that tuition for?

It wasn’t the money that made me mad. It was the sheer folly of it all.

There’s some idea floating around in pop psychology that if something makes you angry it means you feel threatened by it, that it’s a challenge to your preconceived notions, and it’s an opportunity to grow.

In some cases this is true. However, often I’ve seen that concept thrown out as an attempt at misdirection, to change the subject away from some blatant travesty or transgression.

If you don’t put your values and beliefs to the test consistently, then you can be vulnerable to the suggestion that the problem lies in you, not with whatever absurdity raised your ire. Next thing you know, you are on the defensive, filled with doubt, and ready to eat whatever they’re trying to feed you. It’s a horribly manipulative process, and the gatekeepers of our culture have made themselves masters of this kind of distraction.

The only defense is to know yourself well, flaws and all, and recognize Who the only true source of authority is.

We’re all far from perfect, but that does not mean we have to succumb to the devious machinations of the wicked.

I recognized this so-called art was a lie. I felt it in my bones. It was as instinctual as breathing. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but I understood I was witnessing a betrayal, a coup, an assassination.

What I experienced was the entirely justifiable rage felt when witnessing an attempted swindle unfold, perpetrated by a type of huckster who wasn’t nearly as clever as he thought he was. It was the classic fallacy of the appeal to authority. This guy was some big shot curator, thus his declarative statements were to be supposed to be received as wisdom. But what I saw was some patronizing poseur projecting all sorts of ridiculous significance onto heaps of torn cardboard.

He was just about the most naked emperor I’d ever encountered up to that point. Unfortunately I would soon be exposed to many more.

 

COMMENTARY: 1962 – The Changing of the Avant-Garde

 

Andy Warhol, 1962

“As disturbing as it was, we continued with the Pop generation, which in the meantime has made its own reputation.”

-Sidney Janis, American gallerist, 1896-1989

*Update: Richard Bledsoe will be offline for an extended period due to an unexpected medical situation. I am Richard’s wife, Michele Bledsoe – and for the interim I will act as his hands and eyes. 

The following is a section from a major work-in-progress about art and culture Richard is writing. 

1962 was the end of the Modern Art era. Much like the Salon des Refusés ushered in the Modern Era in 1863, it was another art show that gave evidence of a definitive shift in the culture.

The influences had been gathering for years, before coming together in a definitive event. In this case the tipping point was an art show located in a temporarily rented store front – a pop-up gallery, we would say these days.

The International Exhibition of the New Realists opened on October 31, organized by New York City gallerist Sidney Janis. With this show, the Postmodern era had arrived.

International Exhibition of the New Realists, 1962

We’ve come to call it Pop art, the opening gambit of the generational shift in art and culture the Janis show encapsulated. It featured future superstars Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg, Yves Kline, Christo, and many others.

The reigning dominant critic Clement Greenberg’s grip has slipped. His preference for abstraction had dominated the 1950s art world. After the exile of representational art, it was back with a vengeance, but also with a twist.

Pop art was easy to like. On the surface it was bright and playful; instant gratification art. It aspired not to inspire, but to be ironic. The recognizable imagery depicted was coming not directly from life, but was reproduced from the filtered and stylized presentations of industrial mass media: advertising, Hollywood, newspapers, comic books and television. From its inception, The Postmodern era was informed by the illusions, distortions, and manipulations these mediums employed.  Postmodernism is very useful for those who have something to hide.

But back in 1962, it was a scary Halloween for Janis’s existing stable of abstract expressionist studs. Some of the biggest names in Modern painting quit his gallery after the audacious show. Departing artists Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, and Adolph Gottlieb had struggled for decades in obscurity before the agendas inflicted on the art world turned in their favor. For a brief time, they were the pinnacle. But in the early 1960s a new set of ideas was rising.

The art on display in The New Realists show was not just another variation on Modernist priorities, another facet of Modernism’s typical fragmentation. The new way was basically a repudiation of everything the aging Modernists thought they stood for.

I select this Janis show as the Postmodern starting point because of its consequences. The changing of the guard was plain for all to see in the tempest in a teapot scale of the art world. The Action painters were driven to take action, but it was already too late.

Displaced: Philip Guston, Jimmy Ernst, Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Mark Rothko

ART QUOTES: On the Role of Risk in Art

Mark Rothko “Untitled”

“Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks.”

-Mark Rothko

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William Baziotes “Amorphic Forms”

“This particular time has gotten to a point where the artist feels like a gambler. He does something on the canvas and takes a chance in the hope that something important will be revealed.”

-William Baziotes

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Kurt Vonnegut “Tout in Cohoes”

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

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Graham Sutherland “Hydrant II”

“In painting, you have to destroy in order to gain… you have got to sacrifice something you are quite pleased with in order to get something better. Of course, it’s a risk…”

-Graham Sutherland

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Louise Nevelson “Royal Tide IV”

“The outside world pressures you into a mold, but if you don’t accept that – you gamble with life. Call it gambling.”

-Louise Nevelson