Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Camille Paglia Needs To Get Out More
A week and a half ago, Camille Paglia wrote an opinion piece in one of that island's local newspapers.
With a title like "How Capitalism Can Save Art" Ms. Paglia piques the interest
Ms. Paglia cites a decline in the visual arts, particularly painting since the 1970s. She goes on to state that the avant-garde is dead while citing execrable installations masquerading as art. If that is what art is, then art is dead. She further laments the fact that in recent years young people have become disconnected from the manual trades, and thus lack the technique to pull off artistic expressions.
True, today's kids are not going to get summer jobs in shoe factories or learn about steel making from besooted parents--unless those parents are artisans making hand-made shoes or smelting metal in backyard forges.
As technology creates new forms of expression old forms don't necessarily die so much as become art forms--like the blacksmith I watched on Nova last night forging a Viking sword in his shop in Door county Wisconsin.
Blacksmithing is art? It's more art than taking snaps of a crucifix in a jar of urine.
I've said elsewhere that rich people can be stupid, filling museums with overrated junk and in so doing they are disclosing a naked-emperor groupthink unmatched by anything except perhaps the Obama presidency.
ArtPrize a few years ago. Art experts squealed like pigs that the prize would be awarded on the basis of popular vote instead of expert judgement. Indeed. By crowd-sourcing art evaluation as was done with ArtPrize entries, art experts can be disintermediated.
Dangling a quarter-million dollar prize in front of the public caused a lot of talented people to think about what sort of art they could produce. And--for better or worse--they manifested a diverse spectrum of creativity as I've describe elsewhere. But don't take my word for any of this, look at this year's winners for yourself. The 2nd and 3rd prize winners are illustrative of this diversity of creativity: in the former case, hundreds of little robotic birds danced and flew about the room in a dazzling show of technology, while in the latter case, the artist put paint on canvas in a way that would please the Dutch masters of old.
The two trends both falsify and confirm Ms. Paglia's thesis.
Second, by bringing hundreds of visitors to the Grand Rapids downtown area, the ArtPrize organizers have brought a lot of business to restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. ArtPrize is capitalist. It is as capitalistic a happening as an Amway presentation. Art may be dead in Manhattan, but it's alive each autumn in Grand Rapids, MI.
So, Ms. Paglia, if you want to see art that is not dead, look in Brooklyn for a hacker space. And if that doesn't satisfy, drop by Grand Rapids next fall.