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Not ugly enough to appreciate?

Barcepundit's Jose Guardia links to a fascinating piece on modern art, titled "Admit it - you really hate modern art":

There are esthetes who appreciate the cross-eyed cartoons of Pablo Picasso, the random dribbles of Jackson Pollock, and even the pickled pigs of Damien Hirst. Some of my best friends are modern artists. You, however, hate and detest the 20th century's entire output in the plastic arts, as do I.

"I don't know much about art," you aver, "but I know what I like." Actually you don't. You have been browbeaten into feigning pleasure at the sight of so-called art that actually makes your skin crawl, and you are afraid to admit it for fear of seeming dull. This has gone on for so long that you have forgotten your own mind. Do not fear: in a few minutes' reading I can break the spell and liberate you from this unseemly condition.

Spengler also explains why modern artists can become rich, while modern composers starved. It's because modern art does not overwhelm the senses, while modern music does:
Why is it that the audience for modern art is quite happy to take in the ideological message of modernism while strolling through an art gallery, but loath to hear the same message in the concert hall? It is rather like communism, which once was fashionable among Western intellectuals. They were happy to admire communism from a distance, but reluctant to live under communism.

When you view an abstract expressionist canvas, time is in your control. You may spend as much or as little time as you like, click your tongue, attempt to say something sensible and, if you are sufficiently pretentious, quote something from the Wikipedia write-up on the artist that you consulted before arriving at the gallery. When you listen to atonal music, for example Schoenberg, you are stuck in your seat for a quarter of an hour that feels like many hours in a dentist's chair. You cannot escape. You do not admire the abstraction from a distance. You are actually living inside it. You are in the position of the fashionably left-wing intellectual of the 1930s who made the mistake of actually moving to Moscow, rather than admiring it at a safe distance.

That is why at least some modern artists come into very serious money, but not a single one of the abstract composers can earn a living from his music.

Return to the topic of "break[ing] the spell and liberat[ing] you from this unseemly condition," it just so happens that Salvador Dali (who called modern art a "grandiose tragedy") believed it was his destiny to rescue painting from modern art:
Salvador means "savior" and Dalí said he was "destined for nothing less than to rescue painting from the void of modern art." Dalí disparaged modernism (which he saw as lacking respect for craft) as a dead end. He rebelled by infusing contemporary art with virtuoso draftsmanship and painstakingly realistic technique.
In other words, he knew how to draw and paint, and his paintings actually looked like something. (Unlike Jackson Pollack, who knew only how to drip and spill.)

The only slight disagreement I might have with Spengler is his statement that "by inflicting sufficient ugliness upon us, the modern artists believe, they will wear down our capacity to see beauty." I'm not even sure that what they are inflicting is necessarily ugliness, because that would require a depiction of something which is ugly -- which would in turn generate an emotion, a reaction. Many fine artists have accurately depicted ugliness, especially human ugliness. Depicting something like spilled paint or a solid black canvas really depicts nothing at all, and I think it's more on the level of nihilism.

By contrast, here are a couple of Dali's depictions of ugly beings, from Hell:

Lucifer.jpgdalisig.JPG tarbaby.jpg

They're meant to be appreciated as ugly.

A leading Dali dealer and art scholar told me that he loved talking to young fans of Dali who had not yet been to college, because they had not yet been taught to hate Dali.

I'm sure the fact that Dali draws bigger crowds than "traditional" modern (forgive me) artists doesn't help endear him to professors either.

MORE: Another advantage that modern art has over modern music is that it's easier to participate in the former than in the latter.

webeart.jpg

AND MORE: Great news for Dalí lovers! Via Pajamas Media, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation now has an online catalog of the works of Salvador Dalí. What's great about this catalog is that it lists the works alphabetically, chronologically, and by the location all over the world.

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