2014/07/17

The Story of Art

Let's take at random a book of modern and contemporary art, any unpretentious book that you may find also in a house where nobody is particularly interested of art. It  might belongs to one of the children or perhaps it ended up there by an accident.  Let's open and start to flick through the pages, doesn't matter from where, if from the beginning or the end, it's the same. Those more cultivated will recognize some pictures, but most continue to casually browse the book. What interests me is the second type of men. It is only a matter of seconds, he will say a few words like: that filth! or very similar, and hurl the book away from him. He is not a brute even though his traning school was very short, but he is a man who knows how to use his eyes. In opposite I distrust of those who are willing to cue for hours just to be able to see at close range a dozen of Monet put together by the renowed curator and trumpeted by the newspaper (they will be lucky if they can see something over the multitude of the heads and cameras in front of them). In itself it is wrong to look art in this way and if somebody says this is the only possible way I answer: no, it is untrue. If then instead of artists consacrated by one century of History of Art we have artists closer to our time, artists not universally well-known, then the question becomes more complicated. Most of the time it is a real trade among trustees investors whose sole purpose is to raise the value of the goods shown. Actually there are no more public or private museums, art galleries, cultural foundations  to which you can apply with a minimum of credibility, places to promote and preserve the arts; there are not anymore because everything is turned into an incredible speculative operation whose goal is to accumulate money. The bad or ugly art has always been existing, but never so widely and so brazenly as during the last century of our history.
Let's go back to the book thrown away to the  ground by the brute man and let's continue to browse the pages. If this time we follow the numeral sequence of the pages we are witnessing a rapid break down, fall apart, and images disappear. The text comes  to tell us the  eagerness of  the new artists in overcoming the mouldy teachings of the Academy. It is a consolation the presence of an entire generation devoted to the renewal! And here come the trees with the tip convergent, the naked bodies that resemble tree trunks; women who don't decide whether to go back to being themselves or whether to wear horrible African masks; easily recognizable objects (not for long) of everyday life losing the familiar form and even losing the color needed to distinguish them; each object is decomposed into several pieces and it is not easy move to change the point of view in front of a horizontal plane; donkeys fly like in medieval tales; we are confused because all those moods should interpret ourselves, but are we?; puppets that mimic the imminent proletarian revolution; irons tearing the tissues; naked bodies (mind!) always ridicule and deformed. And here are the monstre sacré: Picasso, Modigliani, Soutine, Zadkine, Utrillo, Léger, Man Ray, Duchamp, Ernst, Masson, Gorky, de Kooning, Frankenthaler, Reinhardt, Pollock, Fautrier, Burri, Vedova, Bacon, Rauschenberg, Arman, Jasper Johns, Jorn, Tinguély, Christo, Gehry, Libeskind, and very many others until the self-styled (but well backed)  Holzer, Sherman, Kruger, Serrano (he should at least have the good taste not to be photographed!), etc. etc. Check out please, there is a new one every day, it just depends on funding that manage to grab. Unfortunately the list is long and could start much earlier than the last century, but in this case they are trivial rivalries between scholars who defend their own area of research also deliberately denigrating the line of the rivals (but it is just to earn a university post!). I remember that from the very first lesson at the university we were prepared to the use of the review system, the one and not the other (the winner takes it all, isn't it?), and we young students learned to despite sistematically the Beauty.
What advice may I give to my few readers? Throw away all art books and catalogues owned, retaining only those useful to provide you data and chronological sequence of the various artistic events... but in fact today we have the Internet and so there is no need of them...
Don't you think that Mishima was right when defined critics as "money changers"?