This is a great quote from art critic Donald Kuspit. Kuspit is something of a traditionalist; or rather looking for the old sense of spirituality and insight into human nature to be found in art, a kind of sane dignity that integrates the emotional and the aesthetic without the nihilism that acts to process despiritualization and demystification into a metaphorical concentration camp where the human figure is destroyed and meaningless: a pile of what Picasso called “the sum of destructions.” Clement Greenberg called spiritualism non-intrinsic to art, a byproduct, innecessar baggage, an accident of misplaced materialism.
I want to suggest that the attention to the body as such — the treatment of it as the be-all and end-all of existence, and the only thing at stake in a relationship — is the source of modern art’s perversion. It extends to a preoccupation with the body of the work of art itself, which also becomes the object of perverse formal acts. The modernist awareness of the material medium, and the Greenbergian elevation of the artist’s response to it as the only thing of consequence in his or her production of the work, turns it into a matter of fact body that can only be brought to life by perverse esthetics. Not love and empathic intimacy or mutuality and interdependence — rarely represented in modern art (a striking exception is Schiele’s naked Family, justifiably wary of the wasteland that surrounds it) — but perverse impulses and perverse representations of the body are the substance of much modern art. Also, Kuspit does make an indictment on the whole pop culture consumerist society where money values subsume art entirly, the nightmare of Adorno’s culture industries:
Picasso’s perverse transformations of the female body, so that it looks somewhat less than ideal, and his perverse transformation of traditional representation in Cubism, which involves the fetishization of abstract forms as ends in themselves, and also his perverse transformations of such masterpieces as Velazquez’s Las Meninas, making them look less perfect and masterful than art history declares them to be — his transformations of Las Meninas also devalue the family as well as a fellow Spanish master to whom history has awarded the crown of art that Picasso wants exclusively for himself — are perhaps the most consummate examples of devaluating perversion in action in modern art.
This is why so much modern art is kitsch — innovative, avant-garde kitsch, no doubt, but kitsch nonetheless. All regressively desublimated art tends toward kitsch, especially anally oriented art, excrement being the ultimate kitsch. Kitsch is the most perverse, depraved, evil kind of art, as Broch suggests. Its perversity involves a kind of emotional decadence — entropic regression, one might say. It turns the spectator into a voyeur — Manet’s Olympia certainly does this — which is to devalue looking. It is this devaluation which makes all kitsch art evil. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.asp