OMG NOT WTF

Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.
— David Hockney

Creativity. What is it? Doing something that no one else has done before? Yes, that, but does what this new effort makes manifest have to be better than what went before too, or only new? Modernist artists say it’s gotta be better and new. Postmodern artists say neither need apply.

Modernism is an umbrella term for a variety of more specific to technique and motive sub-movements that was the thing in 1900, plus or minus 60 years. But if you choose to, you can see the beginnings of it centuries before the 19th,and you can also say pre- and not-at-all modernist affects (Yes, spellcheck, that’s the word I want to use!) persist in art to this day.

Modernist art is all about the new, the avant garde, but it ran out of steam in the 1950s when it dead ended, when it couldn’t get anymore what it was trying to be. That could be: 1) Form or color unadulterated by either color or form respectively. 2) Going totally with the medium or denying it all together or 3) having the art be all concept and no gesture or the other way around.

All of the experiments were taken to the extreme, they were as avant garde as they could be. What were artists to do then? Starve? Postmodernism to the rescue! Starting about 1960, stuff that wasn’t avant garde was now declared art. Yes, I know Duchamp began it all half a century before—praise be to Marcel—but the ‘60s was when not-art became the only art.

PoMo with its exaltations of irony, parody and gallimaufry sent avant garde packing. Art henceforth was all about meaning what it does not seem to mean, sarcastic exaggeration and collecting rather than creating. Fun? Yes, at first, not so much anymore. For me it’s like watching pro sports. All I see is millionaires performing for billionaires. Maddening and boring at the same time. I don’t need this, I have politics.

Artworld’s billionaire buyers want it both ways, they want to “get in at the beginning” to buy low, hoping to sell high and well as protect their investments. They don’t want the value of the “next new thing” they bought last year to tank when this year’s entry catches the culture’s fancy. It’s a difficult fence to straddle for zero-sum capitalists “into” art for the big bucks.

Somehow I can’t  empathise. Let’s ignore Artworld. It doesn’t care about us. Why should we care about it? Let’s create or encourage the creation of those otherwise useless (by definition) things that we call art that have some sincere meaning. A little honest subversion—not the subverted subversion for profit that is postmodernism—on the way to the sublime is OK. Be the cagener in artworld’s creche. Let art move us, again (LOL): OMG not WTF. 

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