The Art of Isms

Every branch of human knowledge has its “-isms.”   An “ism” is a distinctive doctrine, cause or theory.  As a suffix, it’s defined, among many things, as an act, practice or process, such as criticism.

Teenaged actor Angus T. Jones, the half of the television show “Two and A Half Men” and a Seventh-Day Adventist, made headlines the other day when he bashed his own show, urging viewers to stop watching and filling their heads with its filth.  Whatever “ism” Angus was practicing when he was interviewed by a Christian television network, he employed apologism today, apologizing to the TV show that has been keeping him employed for the last nine years.

He is, after all, only 19 and 19 year-olds are prone to ghastly employment mistakes.  If he really felt that way, why didn’t he just quit?  In light of his statement, why didn’t he quit rather than apologize?  Because Hollywood is a filthy, corrupted town and he would never work there again if he quit.

Glenn Beck also made history last night when he took an Obama bobblehead and dunked in a jar of “Glenn Juice.”  He called it variously, Flowbama and Obama in Pee Pee.  Obama in Relief?  C’est magnifique.

Le Beck’s work of art was in response to artist Michael D’Auntuono’s painting, “The Truth”, showing a crucified Obama wearing a crown of thorns, the presidential seal in the background, at his presidential podium.  The painting is on display at Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery.  The painting was supposed to be part of what is called “performance art” in New York’s Union Square (near the Cooper Union) four years ago with the painting placed in a makeshift voting booth where people would be offered a “personal experience” which they could then comment upon on the artist’s webpage.

Controversy in the art world is not new.  The marble statues art lovers so admire in every major museum in the world came from the Golden Age of Greece, when pornography and every kind of sex imaginable was taken for granted.  Actually, the statues are mostly copies.  Few original Greek statues survived the invasion of the Goths.  The Romans copied the Greek statues but had to pose the statues with props because the secret for stand-alone statues was lost with the Greek artists who fashioned them.

Art went through various periods – Carolignian, Romanesque (copying the copiers), Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo – culminating in the popular Impressionism of the 19th Century, very romantic and idealized.  The movement owed everything to Claude Monet’s astigmatism.

Everything was downhill after Monet.  After Impressionism and Post-Impressionism came Symbolism, an antidote to what was viewed as the decline of civilization and values.  Symbolism was the mating of writers and poets with painters and sculptors.  As the calendar turned to the 20th Century, artists took what some would say was too fine a microscope, in contrast to Monet’s astigmatic paintings, to examine humanity, warts and all.

This was the age of science and machines.  As technology advanced, humanity began to disappear from paintings, beginning with Picasso’s cubist, disjointed renditions of the human form.  Call him the forerunner of pixilation.  Photography had its effect on the art world as well, ushering in the age of Realism. 

The real downfall of art came with an artist named Dada.  He was born Tristan Tzara in 1916 in Zurich, Switzerland.  His father kept a diary relating the upbringing of his 12 children.  He recorded Tristan’s infant pronunciation of “dada” as a moment of some enthusiasm amongst the family while they were in a café.  “I am convinced,” the father wrote, “that the word is of no importance and this it is only imbeciles and Spanish professors who might be interested in the facts.  What interests us is the Dadaist Spirit, and we were all Dadaists before the existence of Dada.”  Dada is a word for a child’s rocking horse.

Dadaists are to art what the Fabians were to politics and literature.  Dadaists proclaimed that there is no meaning; that beauty is ugliness and ugliness is beauty.  Whole generations and schools of artists followed the Dadaist movement.  From cubism and futurism, they ventured into the avant-garde, expressionism, and minimalism.  Expressionism is a chimpanzee spreading paint over a canvas with its digits.  Minimalism is the red streak on a blank canvas or abstract geographic patterns. 

Idiotic as these art forms sound, there’s a method to their madness:  a gradual dehumanism of art, nihilism, the absence of beauty and the embracing of ugliness.  Minimalism is supposed to represent the rejection of materialism and consumption.  Expressionism, the focus on the artist and what he feels, not on what he sees or how his eye sees the subject.  Artists, following the lead of the Fabians, wanted to have their say.

These trends gave birth to yet another new art form:  “performance art”, showing the artist at work, physically becoming part of the art work.  Rather than a static piece of art, action is implied in the dung smeared on a painting of the Virgin Mary, a statue of Jesus soaked in urine.  In this age of photography and film, artists wanted a piece of the action.  They wanted to leave their personal imprimatur on their works of art.

They also wanted to display their political feelings, thus the violence of their performance art, their defiance of social norms, and their flouting of society’s sensibilities.  Their ambition is to reverse the Golden Mean, placing the basest profanity, meanness and violence at the top of the order, and trample upon the goodness of God.  People who defecate, urinate and copulate and display the basest instincts – not just artists but writers, musicians, poets, filmmakers, actors, dancers – over humanity’s triumphs are hailed by the art schools and critics as our generation’s artistic geniuses.

Some pretty hideous modern sculpture disgraces the grounds of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate on the Hudson in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. (near the Tappan Zee Bridge).  New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller established his estate as the grounds for a modern art museum.  It was the Sixties and no one cared what the common people thought of these iron monstrosities; they were not art historians.  Let them buy their cheap copies of Renoir and Monet.  The wealthy tycoons of Westchester County approved of Modern Art.

The difference between Contemporary Art and Modern Art is the “contemporary” refers to the present period.  “Modern” refers to the immediate past; when the last survivor of the contemporary period in which the artwork was created dies, it is no longer considered “Modern.”  Impressionism was considered “modern” at one time; in fact, the Impressionists were rejected by the Parisian schools of art.

Whether we particularly like Mapplethorpe is insignificant to the authorities of the artistic world.  They and those who have the money to pay for and support this garbage have the final word on what constitutes great art.  Their canvas is the U.S. Constitution and its First Amendment.  They can paint all over it, desecrate it, and sap all of its strength.

The great artists of Europe enjoyed aristocratic and even royal patronage.  Today’s artists (in America) depend upon their funding from elected officials and bureaucrats, as well as wealthy patrons and corporate sponsors.

 The best illustration of what these manipulators are doing to our society with their artistic propaganda is C.M. Coolidge’s 1903 “Dogs Playing Poker.”

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm  Comments (6)  

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