August 17th, 2009

In Response to the article “Art, Taste, Money” posted on The Blog of Innocence.

Photo : Marco Nunes

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I sadly agree with Mark Kerstetter above: It sure is the ‘Age of Warhol’. That said, it’s also the only level on which I can appreciate Warhol’s art… But, like your interesting article seems to suggest – and on which I agree completely -, the essential and critical problem of art today is between: 1. Art as a ‘Gut Feeling’ and 2. ‘Art as Learned’.

What I mean by the above distinction is maybe not directly apparent to some, especially to those quoting the Bourdieu School, but means the following: There’s a conflict between those who say a spontaneous appreciation of art on a human level (or ‘gut feeling’) is possible, and those who argue instead that everything is an institution, artificial and basically about money.

First of, I’m not quite as hostile to money and the rich, nor to their taste or lack of it. They’re no better or worse than the ‘masses’. Secondly, I don’t think these two camps (1 & 2) are mutually exclusive and can and should work in tandem. So I agree with you, art should be a healthy mix of: 1. The ‘artistic sensorium’ or power of differentiation (Adorno) on the one hand, and 2. a cerebral conceptualism or reflective criticism on the other (but which should always be in the service of 1!). This last group of reflective criticism does the ‘school’ forming, and creates highly valuable art traditions and institutions.

The problem with art today is that we seem to have lost our ‘gut feeling’ and in fact have been subjected to a very artificial – because highly theoretical – and tyrannical art philosophy. Important institutions seem to have lost their power to differentiate between great art and fartart, due to a crippling ‘Theory‘ (similar in its ilk and trajectory to Social Realism in the past). In fact, art-institutions have transformed into ‘anti-institution institutions’, taking pathological pleasure in self-mutulation.

Everything in our so-called postmodern age is aimed at denying the possibility of anything remotely resembling great or ‘true’ art, especially on the basis of a ‘gut feeling’! Because they claim everything is learned and, secondly, everything learned is fake – because arbitrary – and thus no better than the next thing to come along. Or put differently: We’ve glided from Kant’s “This IS Great Art!”, down to postmodernism’s flimsy psychological “To me this art appears likable”…

The only good thing postmodernism has done, is to inadvertently open up the artscene, by successfully demolishing the high-vs-low art distinction. So it created a democratic influx – or breath of fresh artistic air – into institutions that died a silent ‘conceptual’ death… Of course ‘democratization’ always opens up the door to bad taste and kitsch, but also to exciting new ideas and creativity (*think youtube).

What we need between the wild growth of Deleuzian rhizomes, is to sow some ‘hierachical’ trees that would liven up the garden! Anywayz, that’s my theory ;-) To make a long story short: Love your work on The Blog of Innocence and your article! Check also this relevant link.

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