Monday, July 11, 2011

Move Along. There Is Nothing To See Here.

At the conclusion of Tom Wolfe’s book THE PAINTED WORD he summarized his theory and made a prediction:

"Hilton Kramer, lets slip the admission: “Frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting”.

“LETS SLIP,” AS I SAY. WE NOW KNOW, OF COURSE, that his words describe the actual state of affairs for tout le monde in Cultureburg; but it is not the sort of thing that one states openly. Any orthodox critic, such as Kramer, is bound to defend the idea that a work of art can speak for itself. Thus in December 1974 he attacked the curators of the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition “The Impressionist Epoch” for putting big historical notes up on the wall beside the great masterworks of the Impressionists. But why? What an opportunity he missed! If only he could have drawn upon the wisdom of his unconscious! Have the courage of your secret heart, Hilton! Tell them they should have made the copy blocks bigger!—and reduced all those Manets, Monets, and Renoirs to the size of wildlife stamps!

"Twenty-five years from now, that will not seem like such a facetious idea. I am willing (now that so much has been revealed!) to predict that in the year 2000, when the Metropolitan or the Museum of Modern Art puts on the great retrospective exhibition of American Art 1945-75, the three artists who will be featured, the three seminal figures of the era, will be not Pollock, de Kooning, and Johns—but Greenberg, Rosenberg, and Steinberg. Up on the walls will be huge copy blocks, eight and a half by eleven feet each, presenting the protean passages of the period . . . a little “fuliginous flatness” here . . . a little “action painting” there . . . and some of that “all great art is about art” just beyond. Beside them will be small reproductions of the work of leading illustrators of the Word from that period, such as Johns, Louis, Noland, Stella, and Olitski. (Pollock and de Kooning will have a somewhat higher status, although by no means a major one, because of the more symbiotic relationship they were fortunate enough to enjoy with the great Artists of the Word.)"

He was close. It took thirty years for this to reach full fruition. Where words are not only larger than the works of art they explain they completely replace the art. Please don’t be confused, this is not “word art” the words still just describe the art it is just that the art does not REALLY exist.

The Museum of Non-Visible Art, or MONA, is a joint collaboration between art collective Praxis and actor James Franco. The museum, which doesn’t actually exist, features invisible art pieces, which also don’t exist, that can nevertheless be purchased with cash - which does exist. MONA art pieces currently on “exhibit” include imaginary sculptures, invisible garments and even a hypothetical Franco short film.

Yes, they are serious.

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