Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Against Modern Art

Reason's Peter Bagge makes an excellent case against both the fetishization of "art" simply because it appears in a museum, as well as the very notion that the arts should be subsidized by the taxpayer. I don't agree with everything he has to say - I can't stand Norman Rockwell's soft-focus pap, and I have a much higher opinion of Shakespeare's work than he does - but in the main he hits the nail square on the head. The best art being created in our day isn't to be found issuing from the studios of cosseted subsidy junkies, but in the industrial realm: a Bang & Olufsen stereo setup or an Apple machine display more real artistic creativity than any number of oh-so-precious variations on a theme initiated (as a joke!) by Marcel Duchamp, and this sort of thing has been the case for going on a century now. I'll freely admit that I'd choose a poster by Erté or a piece of furniture by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann over anything created by the extremely overrated Pablo Picasso without the least bit of hesitation - unless I was planning to sell on the piece for profit, that is. Heck, I'd choose even a Warhol or Roy Liechtenstein print over anything by Picasso if aesthetics were all that mattered.