“Art in the native American mind enjoys the dubious importance attached to the devil in the medieval mind” – Alexander Harvey
The artistic imagination enters only rather furtively into economic life. Artistic truth is still revealed not by the artist but by the market researcher…
It is not the artist who has suffered from the alienation of art from economics but the reverse. For the economic system, the alienation is serious, or at least more than is imagined. The trade deficit in America is most noted in the import of European made products such as automobiles, and its not a question of cost as had been assumed when the phenomenon first manifested itself in the late 1950′s. Its a matter of design where American goods have fallen in large measure below European standards and even American’s own tastes.
It would seem that “the American people can afford everything but beauty.” But, in fact,they have been searching and finding it in Italian, French, German and Swedish products far more than in the domestic fare. Cars are most publicized, but its found in glass, ceramics, metal and so on where the search for beauty leads to a turning away from the historical, myth driven and enduring image of America as chaotic, disorderly and billboard studded, publicity driven and dominated by hustlers which is all defended by competitive ideology, seen as the natural and valued consequences of competitive enterprise. People who question these outcomes are labeled as impractical aesthetes who have not grasped the principles which have made the system what it is today which is based on popular taste and scale.
There is much good in American design, sometimes capable of a strong aesthetic response. But in an alarming number of instances, this clearly is not the case. In these industries it is supposed that industry is something apart from art or, at best, that the artistic imagination must be kept carefully subordinate to popular appeal. And here the consumer has been responding to the closer identification of European industry with the artist, and vice-versa, and to the superior product that results.
That design is one dimension of quality no one will question. But its a dimension of preponderant importance that can’t be stressed enough. A poor society only asks that is products be well engineered; a richer one is certain to require that they have beauty as well. At one point the engineer was all important; the Thorstein Veblen emphasis on engineers being dominant figures in capitalist economy, but in or later stages, post-modernism, more place has to be yielded to the artist. The practical person who holds that this is a lot of precious nonsense is learning the truth the hard and expensive way.
One of the happy consequences of reasonable well-being is that people have time and thought and emotion for other things than mere pecuniary motivation. As a society, we are still reluctant, under the influence of American myth, to accept social and political arrangements, notably planning, that would allow harmony between the artist and his environment. We are still far too tolerant of the destruction of beauty if it sells goods. Those who assail our senses, and I think of the blurring between content and advertising, is a disfiguring of our landscape for commercial pu
es, but it still washes since these economic actors can presume to claim that they are serving the paramount goals of the society which in the arts has led some like Donald Kuspit to term the present era as “the end of art” , the “cul de sac” that has arisen with Marcel Duchamp and down the food chain with Warhol then Koons, Hurst etc.
(see link at end)…And, like Asare, Kuspit engages in a spot of enlightened cleaning in an attempt to remove the postmodern clutter that threatens to swamp our artistic landscape.
Kuspit traces the genealogy of the postart aesthetic from Marcel Duchamp’s announcement of an “entropic split” between intellectual expression and animal expression (which led to the reification of concept over form, and from there to a nihilistic pessimism) through Warhol’s commercialism (which blurred the line between art and business) to Hirst’s installations (which reflect postmodernism’s preoccupation with the banal objects and situations of our everyday lives).
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.Read More:http://www.themodernword.com/reviews/kuspit.html