2005/04/24

Unanswered questions about contemporary visual arts

Those of you who read my posts regularly know my views by now on visual arts. In summary my thesis goes as follows:
"From animist times, through religious times, to modern times art has served as an instrument of unification of human societies behind the worldviews at the hands of the men of knowledge and the men of power of the time through its imaging of those worldviews at the attention of all the citizenry. This functionality of art that goes back tens of thousands of years has been interrupted sometime along the twentieth century. The notion that art serves a societal functionality has indeed been totally lost on late moderns."

Duchamp said no less in an interview with James Johnson Sweeney in "Eleven Europeans
in America" that had been published in "Bulletin of the Museum of Modern Art" (new York), XIII No 4-5, 1946: "In fact until the last hundred years all painting had been literary or religious: it had all been at the service of the mind. This characteristic was lost little by little during the last century".

This loss is what explains the total confusion where visual art landed by the end of the twentieth century. It was as if "whatever" had been made possible, had been made the norm, in art creation. Suffice indeed for the artist nowadays to say that something is art for that thing to be considered as art and art critics and collectors seem to be of no help at correcting this aberration, they are simply lost in entropy.

In such an environment painting is not sufficient any longer I feel that our present predicament is asking for words to shine the light of sense again on the act of painting.
In the same interview mentionned above Duchamp approached this in the following words : "... art should turn to an intellectual expression, rather than to an animal expression.
I'm sick of the expression 'bete comme un peintre-stupid as a painter' ."


I'm also sick to read and listen all the non-sense that is ascribed to the activity of painting. I have enough of all this stupidity and feel the urge to say out loud and clear that we have to make sense a-new of the act of painting. Visual arts have to be brought back to their original functionality and if we can't do this lucidly and in all consciousness then we'll eventually have to accept societal necessity forcing this upon us in one or another reactionary fashion...

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Those of you who are interested to follow this discussion but who did not read regularly my posts can find a good summary of my thoughts by reading the following posts:

About MODERNITY:
- Early modernity

- Modernity
- Late modernity

About POSTMODERNISM:
- Postmodernism, preliminaries

- The context of the new Postmodern societal worldview in the forming
- The road towards a postmodern societal worldview
- The shaping of a postmodern societal worldview

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So my position is that "... art has served as an instrument of unification of human societies behind the worldviews at the hands of the men of knowledge and the men of power of the time through its imaging of those worldviews at the attention of all the citizenry.."

What remains largely unanswered in my writings is how art came to forget about its function at illustrating the worldview of the men of knowledge and the men of power at the attention of all the citizenry.

How come that such a truly central question could have been so generally ignored ?

Those are the questions that I propose trying to peel in my next series of posts.


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