We see what happens when the ruling class is frustrated. See Wisconsin. And now we see how they react in the art world when the art isn't conformist Leftist.
Art should challenge the status quo, the staid complacencies of the bourgeoisie; it should even shock. So goes a standard Leftist line. But when art actually DOES that, they do their best to suppress it. That helps to explain why the ideas of the avant garde have been the same for more than a century, and why, today, avant garde means defending the statist status quo.
I never agreed with the Leftist line on art. By that definition, fecal matter is art; so is pornography. In fact, both of these are regularly passed off as art in the art houses of the world, and like bad money, drive good art away.
Via the New Criterion:
As a senior in the school[Pratt], Mr. DeQuattro has been working on this art in preparation for a group show for Pratt’s graduating students, which is scheduled to open on April 23. While his faculty advisor has been supporting him, his peers have not. Mr. DeQuattro says they recently wrote a letter to his professors, calling his work “offensive” and complaining about exhibiting alongside him. Last week, the chair of the fine arts department stepped in to prevent Mr. DeQuattro’s participation alongside the other students in the group show--an unprecedented move in the history of the department, says Mr. DeQuattro, despite the fact that none of his work is pornographic, libelous, or in violation of the laws of free speech. Mr. DeQuattro's advisor did not return a request for comment.
Now that the Right has found a voice in politics, the media and the arts, the intolerance of the Left is exploding, sometimes in shunning ... often in violence.
What's the reaction from the defenders of the new status quo? Here's the high priest of the temple of modern art, the Whitney:
If that's not a fierce defender of the status quo, there isn't one."What movement?!" demands David Ross, director of the Whitney, when asked about the Realists in a telephone interview. "There's no such thing!" When reminded that at least 200 Realist artists demonstrated outside the Whitney less than 18 months earlier, he backtracks. "I've always had respect for the artist's plight," he says of the protest. "We even gave them an electric outlet for their equipment."
Ross expresses great skepticism of the contemporary Realists. "That sort of hackneyed academic painting takes an enormous amount of talent and work," he says. "But to go back to copying Leonardo is not art."
He continues: "I admire them just like I admire people that can sing beautifully. It's a real gift. But that alone doesn't make you a great artist." His voice rises, sounding increasingly agitated. "They're old-fashioned, totally out of touch with the issues of the day. I'm interested in art that's wrestling with the history of ideas, and they fail to deal with it! We've had two major world wars, the worst genocides in world history, and many other events that they ignore."
Ross says he has not seen any of Steven Assael's work, but he tells a reporter in her early 20s, "I used to be just like you when I was your age. I had the same questions about art that you do. Listen, you shouldn't be interested in these people. They're just a bunch of crypto-Nazi conservative bullshitters. They're feeding you a line of bullshit! We just had a great conference with Asian-American artists who were concerned with issues of representation at the Whitney. Do a story on that."
When asked to respond to the contention of many contemporary Realists that the Whitney's brand of avant-garde art lacks spirituality, Ross becomes enraged. "I'm sick of hearing these Realists say their work is `affirming'! It's not affirming, it's sappy! Art isn't about making pretty pictures to put in people's homes," he says. "They're rebelling against the age of cynicism? Well, it's not cynicism! It's smartness! It's lack of naivete!" By this point, Ross's voice is shaking with anger. "They think they're special? Well, they are special. If they get a show of their own, great. I'm eager to see what it is, and then we can have a real dialogue," Ross says. "Let them put on their own show. Then I'll accept that there's a movement."
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