art as locusts: hunters and gatherers

Way back when, the French Salon had commodified painting as merchandise and the Salon itself became a gigantic salesroom, for at best inconsequential work of men sometimes technically gifted who understood the manipulation of trite, generic formula mixed with an equal manipulation of personal contacts. Slick technique and anecdotal interest was the recipe. Anecdotal gimmick mixed with psuedo-intellectualism equaled culture even if it was unsophisticated, obvious and vulgar.

---Several visual indicators might encourage the viewer to interpret the scene as a result of Burne-Jones's Catholic influence, such as the verticality and pearly-gold coloring of the staircase that suggests divinity. The doves perched on the Italian-styled roof may be associated with the Holy Ghost, but the human bodies represented discourage the viewer from being completely convinced of the religious subject. Portrayed and referring to the androgynous angels that appear in Leonardo da Vinci's religious paintings, they lack only wings and a halo for the viewer to assume they are descending to the material world with their trumpets and harps for some holy annunciation or heralding. In addition, the timeless quality fostered in the painting disables the viewer from applying a specific and geographical context. The archaic dress, ethereal palette, and apparent classical influence recognizable in the controposto and frieze — like positioning of the figures, encourage the timeless, even surreal theme of the painting. --- Read More:

What does seem obvious, is that much of today’s art is ingeniously repackaged but the dynamic of the tacky and the kitsch, the tepid and ordinary conceptions and this appeal to intellectual acumen based on shaky aesthetic grounds is more than evident in its desire to flatter the viewer, albeit with a dose, now tired, of the “shock of the new”. The result is near identical: ravishing novelty effects yet then as now, the public, awed by the prices paid, continus to take the art seriously playing to the identical titillation of a bourgeois public obsessed with only the surface observance of a moral code yet delighting in artistic subterfuge. Honesty, then as now is a dangerous policy. What began with Manet’s Olympia, considered “high game” and “indecent” has become convention with its attendant voyeurism, gazes of various sorts and outright morbid curiosity; the same culture circuit since Aristophanes.

---Kuspit traces the genealogy of the postart aesthetic from Marcel Duchamp’s announcement of an “entropic split” between intellectual expression and animal expression (which led to the reification of concept over form, and from there to a nihilistic pessimism) through Warhol’s commercialism (which blurred the line between art and business) to Hirst’s installations (which reflect postmodernism’s preoccupation with the banal objects and situations of our everyday lives). Whereas modern art consisted of revolutionary experiments motivated by a desire to express aspects of the newly-discovered “unconscious mind,” Kuspit argues, postart is shallow, unreflective banality motivated by the desire to become institutionalized; that is, part of the mainstream (along with the commercial reward that such co-opted acceptability brings). In this regard, the messianic zeal with which Van Gogh approached his work represents an ideal because it demonstrates the kind of authentic and individualistic commitment to artistic expression that today’s commercialized postartists lack. The crucifixion has become a cabaret.--- Read More:

Art it seems, has always had a misunderstood connection among its visual forms and the series and layers of complex social interests from which it emancipates itself from, yet remains embedded in. The idea of linear progress seems more a conjecture of our age of common individual and open markets hiding aesthetic ignorance and mediocre taste in the face affluence and purchasing power. It is doubtful that art has ever possessed and independent, and culturally distinct trans-historic essence, despite the illusion of a few random flashes. Our so called modern freedom of the artist is likely as qualified by circumstance and context – social, economic, political and psychological factors- as even medieval artists or cave painters at Lascaux. The great given, is that time, since the day was divided between light and dark, has always been perceptually modulated by the flux, the ebb and flow, the intrinsic instability of human existence.

Jehan Georges Vibert. The Diet. Read More:,_private_collection.jpg


( see link at end) : Let me emphasize that while these art money comparisons raise art value comparisons, the market offers no conceptual follow-through or rationale for its prices. Indeed, whatever the national differences, it tends to preclude critical discussion of artistic differences, even as it crudely signals them. Money’s reason for being is enough to make the being of any art rational and give it critical import.

In other words, money is the only raison d’etre and meaning art finally needs. You may say that money values have nothing to do with art values. But art prices not only impinge on them, but imply there is no need for independent evaluation of art. Any independent consciousness of art misses the capitalist point that it is has become a form of equity — estheticized equity, but equity before it is esthetic….

---Paul McCarthy, The Saloon, 1995-96, mixed media, 139×191 x 110”. Installation view showing Dance Hall Girl and Cowboy (Gunfighter). All photos courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York.---Read More:

Today art’s importance is that it creates money. It is not clear that money creates art, however much it may “patronize” it. Art’s

e is guaranteed by money, which doesn’t mean that without money it has no value, but that money value overrides art value while appearing to confer it. Both art and criticism have been defeated by money, even though money gives art critical cachet, thus validating it as art. Even more insidiously, money has become more existentially meaningful than art.

Indeed, I am prepared to argue that money rushes in to full the vacuum of existential meaningfulness left by art that has lost spiritual purpose. To put this another way, speculative investors in art, that is, those who buy it as a material investment rather than for its spiritual qualities, and thus in effect deny them, and in general show their spiritual indifference and existential backwardness, are comparable to the “locusts” that Franz Münterfering, former chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic party, called hedge fund investors who make hostile bids for companies. “Locusts. . . move into a field, eat it to the ground, and move on to the next without looking back.” Read More:

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