Jean Mouroux

The Vatican's Social Justice Créche

Joy to the world and a lump of coal in your bourgeois stocking. That is the mixed message of this year’s updated créche in St. Peter’s Square. Admonitory additions to the traditional créche illustrate Orwell’s contention that all art is propaganda. He did not have the ancient manger scene in mind, but he might as well have. Right-thinking Vatican set designers appear intent on proving him correct. And exhibiting their own high moral conscience at the same time. A polemic in disguise, this year’s installation is a leaden tutorial from earnest men with stern expressions and furrowed brows. Continue Reading
The Pathos of the MFA, part II

IT WAS BARNETT NEWMAN, I think, who said: “Aesthetics is for art what ornithology is for the birds.” That is a gravelly way of getting to the point that philosophies of art are written for philosophers. Artists are not the intended beneficiaries. They need not approve and can easily cripple themselves if they try. Yet MFA programs still insist on cudgeling artists with syllabi soaked in a jumble of philosophy, art theory and aesthetics. Much of it clusters around the concerns of literary theorists. Continue Reading