Monday, March 16, 2009

The End of the Affair?


A while back, during a Guardian-influenced posting frenzy, a friend accused me of having the hots for Jonathan Jones, and it was kind of true, I still think he's super smart. So he gets lots of cross-Atlantic love from me.

However, when a friend of mine sent a me link to Jones' recent column, "How art killed our culture: All the shallowness of modern mass culture began in avant-garde art 40 years ago," I had to read it, then disagree. While I certainly agree that the art world, and art, have been instrumental in transforming the past 100 years, so has technology, the changing social order, and, (I dunno) two World Wars.

To say that because artists tapped into the consumer/pop culture they saw around them, and that in so doing, on so commenting, that they created the reality that followed reeks of the kind of anti-progressive, "things were better in the old days," mentality that serves no end. Plus it's just lazy thinking.

3 comments:

September 19, 2005 May 15, 2006 said...

Notes on a workshop (Part 2)

Anonymous said...

No, I got a different take on it,
not the "things were better in the old days," but that they merely absorbed/drew upon the commercialism and tackiness of The Advertising Age and did not go any deeper.
Campbell Soup cans???? Marilyn Monroe photos ripped off from Life magazine and morphed into silkscreen?
Where are the 20th century Rembrandts?
Chris

Mark Creegan said...

This cynical article neglects the fact that any commercial reception of art of the last 40 years is tangential to the intellectual one. The art is legitimized by papers published in Art Journal and/or presented at CAA conferences, not by its commercial value which happens because people find ways of selling stuff. Most of the intellectuals writing about this art could care less how much it is worth or how glamorous it is to own it –they care about its relevancy to our cultural moment.

I think that the confusion stems from not understanding the self-reflexivity of art. Pop art reflected society’s commercialism. Art that projected personal, emotional responses (i.e, Ab-Ex) could not do that, especially when the entire idea of a singular, unmediated, authorial response is highly questionable. The commercial assimilation of this art is part of its intellectual use as well, without it, the message is meaningless. Now in the last 10 years everything is ramped-up, and much of today’s art mirrors society’s over-the-top-bling-bling status, either directly with diamond-encrusted sculls, or inversely with discarded trash. It may seem like society assimilates and changes art but it has always been the other way around.