November 2010

Dodging the Sacred

MODERNITY OFFERS SECULARISTS TWO SEDUCTIVE HEDGES: aestheticism and Buddhism. New York’s Rubin Museum yokes them together in a pictorial fantasia on the New Age-y theme of universal spirituality. No divisive truth claims mar the view from the $100 million monument to Multi-Plan founder Donald Rubin’s own purchasing power and those acquisitive cravings that Buddhist doctrine decries. All contradictions and irreconcilable differences disperse in the solvent of art appreciation, that distinctly Western ideology at the heart of museum culture. Embodying the Holy: Icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism is a visually splendid, conceptually shallow, exhibition. Continue Reading
Every Town, Its Arts Center

IT USED TO BE “A CHICKEN IN EVERY POT.” Today, the rallying cry is more like “Every town, its own art center.” How else can we grow into informed, sensitive, environmentally caring and gender-free citizens without art? Without the ministrations and musings of Those Who Know? Without the comfort of art to compensate for our unemployment? Ask Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A prosperous metropolis at the turn of the 20th century, it was a naitonal center for the manufacture of woolens. It had thriving mills that produced grist, lumber, paper and textiles. Continue Reading
Forgery and Fiction

VELÁSQUEZ’ ROKEBY VENUS SUFFERED VANDALISM IN 1914, when suffragette Mary Richardson took a meat cleaver to it in London’s National Gallery. (In a 1952 interview she conceded that she “didn’t like the way men visitors gaped at it all day long.”) Known also as The Toilet of Venus or La Venus del espejo, painted between 1647 and 1651, it is the only surviving Velásquez nude. ” ” This pearl of great price is the motive force behind Michael Gruber’s tour de force of psychological suspense and up-market fraud, The Forgery of Venus.  Continue Reading
CAA & The Death of Art

INFLATION IN THE ARTS IS OF A PIECE WITH INFLATION IN ACADEMIA. The upcoming College Art Association, in New York this year, has just mailed out its conference information. Scheduled for the first day of the conference are workshops on the important things: finding a job, keeping it, and getting grants. One of them aims at all the newly minted MFA’s: Job Hunt 101: Essential Steps in Securing a Job in the Arts. As night follows day, the next morning brings: Grant Writing for Artists. Continue Reading
A Tea Party in the Arts?

‘WHAT MIGHT A TEA PARTY IN ART LOOK LIKE?” That was the question asked by a reader in his response to yesterday’s aprés-election post. It is a delicious question. Poignantly quixotic, to be sure, but no less delightful for that. It deserves quoting in full for those of you who do not click through to comments:
Today we face the wasteland of a nihilistic official art world, daily on display at such sites as Art Forum or, ruled by an Academy far more oppressive than any of the past owing to its belief in nothing more than the recitation of Soros/Code Pink politics and the exercise of its own arbitrary power.
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