Art and Politics

Welfare for Art?

NPR’S FIRING OF JUAN WILLIAMS has reignited examination of the larger issue of taxpaper funding for the arts. It was John Sloan, I believe, who welcomed public money, official award committees and the whole apparatus of state largess on the grounds that, by following the money, artists would know who their enemies are. With the country over $13 trillion—trillion—in debt, suddenly talk of defunding the arts does not seem like the mean-spirited, philistine, conservative plot it has traditionally been considered. Both the artists’ listserve to which I belong and AICA, the critic’s association to which I belong, howl at the thought. Continue Reading
Watch What You Do With Words

TO READ AN ART SCHOOL PRESS RELEASE, it helps to steady yourself with a good shot of Orwell. His essay, “Politics and the English Language” seems more pertinent now than ever. Why now? Because artists are increasingly encouraged to think of themselves as activists and savants. The link between art and craft—and the concomitant aspiration toward the creation of beauty—has been slowly discarded. In its place are vague stances that lend themselves to politicization, turning artists into self-appointed community organizers, agitators of the airy, expressive sort. Continue Reading
Art the Destroyer

THIS PRESS RELEASE CAME IN THE MORNING MAIL. It is a shining example of academic/museum culture. An initial cue to the tenor of things is the windy title of John Russell’s untitled painting. [Scroll down.] If you see only two glowing suns, not three as announced, do not fret. The third will show up sooner or later in another replicate. It is an inkjet print—quite a huge one—on polyester. Russel exhibited the identical central image in a group show at the Royal Academy, London, in 2008. Continue Reading