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Maybe It's Your Platitude by Philip Kennicott
"The need to talk about art -- and to write about art -- seems as basic as the need to experience art... But we talk about art -- and write about art -- so poorly... The following is a list of 50 truisms, half-truths, blatant lies and childish wishes, fundamental to the way we think about art, and none of them very useful."Critical Thinking On The Web > Art
Is the artistic value of Mondrian's art testable? by Alan Lee
A clever experiment shows that art experts can't distinguish between Mondrian's paintings and randomly generated pseudo-Mondrians, despite the supposed aesthetic brilliance and profundity of the former. This suggests in turn that much of what those art experts say about the Mondrians is little more than pretentious, hollow bloviation. "My method is the visual art equivalent of the experiment in which you put a monkey at a typewriter to see how long it takes to produce a Shakespearian sonnet...I think that we should change our minds about Mondrian and recognise that his paintings have never really been anything more than aesthetic placebos." [12 Aug 02]
Which Side Are You On? by Lewis Wolpert
Scathing critique of the half-baked idea that science and art have much in common. "Art... has nothing to do with understanding how the world works. To pretend that it does is to trivialise science and do nothing for art. We should stop pretending that the two disciplines are similar, and instead rejoice in the very different ways that they enrich our culture." [25 Mar 02]
Mirroring Evil? No, Mirroring Art Theory by Ron Rosenbaum
"the essays in the Mirroring Evil catalog, which are incessantly patting themselves on the back for their "daring," their "transgressiveness," but which seem to me collectively to constitute a retreat from facing the subject: a retreat into a comforting, familiar and fashionable art-theory framework. One that shields the theorists from questioning the postmodern preconceptions so dear to them...Being a Jew in the Third Reich was dangerous. Being an art-theory essayist in America supported by multiple foundation grants is, well … a little less dangerous, to be charitable." [18 Mar 02]
The $29,900 Styrofoam Cup by Karen Lehrman
"The art world, through a masterful manipulation of intellectual insecurities, has made itself largely immune to real criticism for the past 30 years."
When Art Becomes Inhuman by Karl Zinsmeister
Much of the most prominent contemporary art is shocking, in a sophomoric kind of way. In extreme cases it deliberately insults and degrades its audience. Zinsmeister gives an entertaining catalogue of examples. From a critical thinking perspective, however, things get more interesting when he tries to explain how this absurd situation is maintained. He claims: "The current gospel that artists needn’t master certain skills but only need be “true to their own vision” is a convenient rationalization for irresponsible slapdashery. It frees self-proclaimed artists from accountability to anyone (teachers, tradition, the audience, the truth, the greats who preceded them). It exempts artists from having to revise or refine their work (that would undercut “spontaneity” and “authenticity”). And, handiest of all, the elevation of viewpoint over craftsmanship effectively places modern artists beyond criticism (Who are you to step on my viewpoint?). Modern artists may claim to be revolutionaries, but in practice they demand docile consumers offering up automatic respect, without any criticism of their dogmas. The result is mediocrity, and worse..."
I defend my right to question the value of today's art by Ivan Massow
Interesting anecdotal evidence concerning the level of critical thinking possible in the art world. "My fate as chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts will be decided at 6.30pm this evening by the Grandees of the ICA Council when they meet in the splendid, panelled Brandon Rooms at the top of the Institute's elegant headquarters in Whitehall. They will be meeting – they'd hoped in secret – to decide whether someone who can describe "some" concept art as "craftless tat" should be allowed to continue to hold the rank of ICA chairman." Available for purchase.
Last updated: 19 Jun 2007
Last link check: 12 Apr 2004