…. Is there still the spiritual in art, the kind of transcending of the sacred/profane dynamic that Kandinsky spoke of? The grip of anti-art within the art world is predominant and intransigent. The argument has been made that post-modern art is the equivalent of junk bonds; the mortgage backed commercial paper and toxic receivables of both a financial and spiritual nature, with the Jeff Koons, Damien Hirsts, Paul McCarthys et al. as representatives of this malaise, this bankruptcy in art. Like Baudelaire’s the poet as prostitute, these artists are merchandise and salesman in one.
The postart aesthetic really began with Marcel Duchamp and the splitting of of intellectual expression from the individual. The reification of concept over form and then the short hop to nihilistic pessimism without pause to consider Benjamin’s messianic nihilism and then to Warhol which solidified the relation between art and business similar to the Bauhaus ethic but without the pretense of functionality and technique, and then on through the Hirst installations which are glorified preoccupations with Duchamp style banal objects.
…I would say it is ultimately nihilistic. I think it is not only anti-art – it is anti-life. Let’s just think for a moment of what Koons did with Chicholina – I’m referring to his sculptures of her. She was his Italian wife, also once a member of the Italian Parliament, and some say a prostitute or call girl or model as well as a celebrity of sorts. They’re now divorced. The sculptures were on view at the Sonnabend Gallery. In one work she looks like a glamorized not to say whorish belle femme sans merci–the eternal feminine downgraded/degraded to a media slut — anti-life indeed. Read More:http://dks.thing.net/Donald-Kuspit-Diane-Thodos.html
… Yes, I think so. It’s interesting to me that contemporary artists appeal to very rich people. It’s very important to have a high price. There is a kind of saying in the art market – you may have heard it– that if you put a work out there with a low price on it people will say it can’t be worth very much….They perceive low quality because the price is low. I remember a dealer who once said that people were questioning him about piece of art because it was for $200,000…. It is as though if it were priced for $300,000 they would consider it. They look at art with the dollar sign. ( ibid )
Cole: Whereas modern art consisted of revolutionary experiments motivated by a desire to express aspects of the newly-discovered “unconscious mind,” Kuspit argues, postart is shallow, unreflective banality motivated by the desire to become institutionalized; that is, part of the mainstream (along with the commercial reward that such co-opted acceptability brings). In this regard, the messianic zeal with which Van Gogh approached his work represents an ideal because it demonstrates the kind of authentic and individualistic commitment to artistic expression that today’s commercialized postartists lack. The crucifixion has become a cabaret.
Kuspit points out that it was to a very different kind of institution – the psychiatric ward – that modern artists were drawn. In an attempt to understand how the unconscious and madness can affect the creative process, modern artists turned their attention to the artworks of psychiatric patients. Modern art went on to find its greatest glories in the dark and mysterious world of the human unconscious. This is the anti-Allegory of the Cave, an emergence into night….
…Acknowledging that modern art’s engagement with madness produced imperfect (but important) art, Kuspit… attacks the postartists for substituting modern art’s authentic engagement with madness for the cozy passivity of the television documentary. Fearful of the dark and unpredictable world of the unconscious (largely because they are ignorant of it), postartists engage in mimicry of madness. The failure of creativity that characterizes postart, Kuspit notes, is highlighted in the way that postartists fail to imagine that there is a flicker of madness inside us all.