Wanted: LRC Art Critic

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I wish we had someone to do for paintings and related visual arts what Brad Edmonds has done for music. At least for now we don’t, so allow me to point out a new resource on the Art Renewal Center site. ARC champions “a return of training, standards and excellence in the visual arts”. They have recently added a fascinating list of FAQs (scroll past Contents) with answers written by ARC founder Brian Yoder. Not only does he make a compelling case for traditional standards of judgment in art with welcome and funny shots at the oppressive modernist regime, but there’s even a pleasant surprise for libertarians…

Q: Aren’t you just advocating traditionalism?

…[Modernists] say that one can either be tied down by old-fashioned ideas/skills/practices/themes/etc. and prefer them because they are traditional OR one can throw the whole thing in the garbage and start “fresh” by adopting the dogma of modernism which considers novelty to be the prime (or perhaps only) virtue. This is curious for two reasons. One is that nobody takes that other position… it’s a straw man. Second, after 100 years, the modernist tradition is no longer new. All the stunts have been tried. Blank canvases, silent piano solos, random smearings of paint, random drippings of paint, random swirlings of paint, random selection of materials, selection of fecal matter as the medium… you name it, it has been tried, so now what? Curiously enough, the only novelty left is to create genuinely good art using good techniques… a practice mostly abandoned for the last 100 years.

Q: Wasn’t the development of photography to blame for the development of Modernism?

…Another reason I don’t think that photography had a role in the demise of good art is that similar degradations happened in all of the arts around the same time. Music, sculpture, and literature had their encounters with atonality, formless blobs, and Gertrude Stein… around the same time that the world of painting and drawing were disintegrating as well. Even outside of the world of art entirely we can see the better and more civilized ideas of the 19th century in politics, science, and philosophy falling into Nazism, Communism, nihilism, relativism, existentialism, and irrationalism of all kinds at about the same time.

Q: What can we do to make things better?

1. Get the government out of the arts, especially financially. The government generally doesn’t do a very good job of determining where its money goes, and a whole class of political hacks has gained control of this money and used to to support their modernist cause. The sums of money made available are massive and they strongly influence the direction of art. Your voting and letters can help move the government in the right direction… out of the arts.

Q: How can you call for removal of government support for the arts? Wouldn’t it help if we were able to divert more government money to better kinds of art?

What we need is not more socialism for the museums and symphonies or government regulation of record companies and schools. What we need instead is to replace the mis-education system that removes the audiences from the symphonies, museums, art schools, and galleries. What we need to do is shrink the vast resources at their disposal and keep on plugging away trying to educate people about the good stuff. We don’t need socialism to support us. We just need the support for modernism that is extracted from the public by force to be eliminated…

2:26 pm on August 31, 2005