artsy thoughts

Postcards from Nowhere is an essay that explores the state of modern art, in a well-developed though ultimately very familiar way. The author makes the case that contemporary installations and ironic mass-produced ‘nonsense’, starting from Duchamp or Warhol but now produced by such figures as Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, and Damien Hirst, have lost any sense of meaning or commentary they might have had, and really can’t be considered art.

The problem of course, is what can be considered art. This author mostly seems to urge museums to champion their early 20th century collections. He tries to make a weak gesture of support toward some attempts of contemporary artists to produce more organic installations (more “found art” than “mass produced”) but it seems clear he believes we hunger for the beauty of Cezanne and Seurat. But can we go home again? The essay addresses the argument that we get the art we deserve, so to speak, but quite dismissively.

The point isn’t merely that we live in a technology laden world, so art reflects that. It’s also that since we have so much technology, artists interested in realism and beauty may have gone on to become photographers, cinematographers, designers, illustrators – any number of other professions in which the aesthetic is taken as seriously as ever. Fine art has to compete and interact with those media. It’s hard to say if visual art can still do the same thing it once did – critics often write about what is wrong with art now, but really the only way to change it is to just stop responding to the artists that they don’t like, and to only respond to the ones that are doing something more personal and aesthetic. There’s no such thing as bad publicity…

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5 Responses to “artsy thoughts”

  1. onlyconnect Says:

    Hi there. I am sorry to bother you, but I noticed today that you closed your Metafilter account. I really appreciated your contributions there — I found myself agreeing with you much of the time, and you helped to better my understanding of countless issues with your thoughtful, generous, and patient posts. It’s understandable you may not have time or further inclination, etc., — and I see a comment here that you have been trying to stay off the internet, so maybe this is part of a larger effort. We’ve never met or anything and I apologize if this is strange. I just wanted to say that if your account closure is permanent, I will really miss your voice there. I’ve really enjoyed your point of view.

  2. drinkme Says:

    hi onlyconnect… Thanks for the friendly comments. (and for noticing :))
    I don’t know that it will be permanent – I need to finish a dissertation, and it seemed to just be eating up too much time, plus I felt I was repeating myself a lot and sort of getting lost in the kerfuffle a bit too often instead of getting into thoughtful discussions. But once I’m less stressed out about my own writing I’ll probably see if I can be resurrected.
    So far I’m not sure it helped very much anyway – I’m just playing freecell instead… like kierkegaard said, you can’t escape your distractions. next step, buddhist monastery… i’ll never learn.

  3. onlyconnect Says:

    Thanks so much for the response. A dissertation is an excellent reason to lay low, and I am ridiculously pleased by the news that you might return to Metafilter someday. (So selfishly I really hope you do!) I hope you find just the right balance between distraction and productivity, and wish you the best of luck on your writing. If you ever visit DC, please let me know and at a minimum we will have to plan a meetup!

    Thanks again!

  4. language hat Says:

    Just wanted to second onlyconnect: you’re missed, and will be welcomed back. (Also, my sympathies on the “having to finish a dissertation” thing. I’ve been there, and it ain’t fun.)

  5. drinkme Says:

    thanks so much, languagehat 🙂
    and I appreciate the sympathies. off to try a new strategy involving index cards now…

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