I wrote this in purple deliberately to try and enhance the intrinsic silliness of art critique.
Many things annoy me about the art scene – art scenes in general. There is sooooooo much hypocrisy and elitism it is hard to know where to start.
Firstly, there is this: I would say that almost everyone involved in the art world would believe themselves to be some kind of socialist – and yet everything about this “art world” is intensely exclusive. How socialist is that? It isn’t bloody socialist at all!
Ever been to an art gallery and seen a giant canvas covered in one or two colors of paint, thought to yourself “man, that’s crap, I could do that. Why the hell is it here? How is this valid? Why is it worth 60,000 dollars?”
Well there are a bunch of reasons why you are RIGHT.
Firstly, critical art theory is still stuck in POST MODERNISM: like the rest of the academic arts (long may their pants be on fire and their intensely fashionable shoes smelly and really, really uncomfortable). One of the most important things about Post-Modernism is that each person brings to the artwork their own history and view, AND THAT THESE VIEWS ARE EQUALLY VALID.
It has been since 1972 officially, marked by knocking down a modernist building AND NOT REPLACING IT WITH ANYTHING POST-MODERN. Replace it with what?
Not to mention that this event was just picked pretty much randomly and is now sacred and historically untouchable, much like the underwear of that deranged Christian girl I went out with who didn’t believe in sex before marriage.
“It exists!” I said.
“Here, it does, see? I can PROVE IT.”
Catch my digression quick and whack it with a waffle bat.
So – post-modernism INHERENTLY MEANS THAT:
Someone who has never seen any artwork before and lived their entire life on an island not drawing in the sand or piling coconuts up for purely aesthetic reasons could come along to a painting and look at it, and according to post-modern theory, what they think of it is totally accurate. Valid. Critically unassailable. MUST BE, has to, HAS TO BE TRUE! Cannot be wrong.
It even goes FURTHER than that. According to post modern theory, what the artist INTENDED does not matter and one of the catch-cries it “the author/artist is dead.” Because what they were trying to say is completely irrelevant – each individual brings his interpretation with him. No matter what it is.
Personally, I find that the monolith thingie in Washington reminds me of an erect penis.
And according to post modern theory I am as right as someone who studied every shred of the sculptor’s life and its culmination in that big weird obelisk.
The primary theory of the last 40 years of silly people taking themselves too seriously and climbing furiously as hard as they can between their own and each others’ buttocks STATES that you don’t need to know anything about any kind of creative work.
So when next you see a piece of wire with a stuffed budgie hanging from it (though this would be a bit too interesting for most contemporary art), carefully insured for tens of thousands of very real dollars and, if touched, likely to cause an alarm followed by immediate arrest… remember that you can’t be wrong. That ALL arts theory currently subscribes to this lunacy.
It includes literature, movies, music, anything that anyone ever terms art if they are surrounded by tossers in black turtlenecks.
When you see the stuffed budgie (replete with inept taxidermy) as You think “well this is a total piece of shit.”
Don’t feel ignorant or embarrassed and definitely not excluded, much as the elitist wankers would have it.
I am not advocating abusing the artist (if it is just awful, let them know). There are – and I mean this – cans of artist’s feces worth $80,000. If you meet that man please do something permanent and violent to him and possibly his progeny. And I will give you half of the tiny amount of money I have to help anyone, ANYONE,
Um, returning to Post-Modernism…
Equally, you can love a painting that no-one else likes, and that too is perfectly legitimate.
Well, mostly I think it sucks. Almost entirely. In art ALL OF IT. Some of it looks cool though devoid of meaning when done in 3d,carved in stone or cast in brass or something. Of course something like that would be considered “passé” and despised as such in the academic arts community because of its “traditional medium."
If you made the same kind of thing made out of garbage however – WE-E-ELL, you may find an art theorist burrowing furiously between your lower cheeks.
As for painting – Here is a quick, and I believe accurate, summary of where MINIMALISM (as in very little or almost nothing on the canvas, in the sculpture, hanging from the board, etc, etc ) comes from: OK, well in the early 19th Century Neoclassicism (neo = new) was the most common and respected form of art – it involved very smooth figures that were quite realistic, formalized and “sentimental”. Staid portraits, history paintings and most of all lots and lots of bible scenes for the catholic church and everyone else rich and catholic.
(I have NEVER UNDERSTOOD why there is a commandment from God, from God himself – the man – saying thou shalt not worship graven images; and yet Michelangelo, painting the Sistine Chapel, just went right ahead and painted a muscular old bearded dude in a pink nightie surrounded by naked children and girls. Seriously. Never been able to find out. Trying to care… trying… gah…. nope. Can’t.)
OK so Neoclassicism and THEN!
J. W. M. TURNER came along. Rocked everyone’s world with colossal power and originality (check his work out it is awesome.) Then the impressionists (with whom we are all familiar, I believe) stole his ideas took ‘em back to France and did them, mostly badly.
Essentially, the paintings were less precise. This was a way of reducing the realism and smoothness of the image, OK, sure, making an IMPRESSION of what the painter could see.
This led to post-impressionism (after impressionism), using more bold colors, less based on reality. This included Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, and Van Gogh – this was a kind of Abstract Realism: art produced where the goal is to portray forms as seen in nature in a manner that will stylize them down or simplify the form, but still paying attention to some detail. Of course, if you have a little gander at Cezanne’s work you will find that he could not paint and knew nothing about painting, was probably color-blind and had some kind of spasticity in his egotistical unco’ fingers. (I am certain that the two still lifes with the fruit, most often shown as his, were painted by someone else, and perhaps only partially ruined by Cezanne.)
This led to Cubism, Fauvism, Futurism and a fair few other isms where the shapes were simplified FURTHER and distorted.
What all these “movements” had in common and the string that really does run through it all is that from “neoclassicism” they were breaking apart their pictures into bigger and bigger bits and distorting what they saw and imagined more and more.
Along came some Russians. A Russian guy called Malevich is the one we can blame for the beginning of minimalism. It is taking the idea of breaking things into smaller bits to paint them to its ultimate extent.
I believe he started doing true minimalist stuff in 1912. The funny thing about this was that he wanted to do something truly Russian – there is an early work of his which has a minimalist background with an appallingly painted COW in the middle of it. A Russian cow apparently. It is pretty funny. Look it up it’s hilarious. Sooo lame.
Anyway in 1918 he went ALL THE WAY and painted a WHITE ON WHITE SQUARE.
Wow. Woah. Wow. What a GENIUS. Most people only do that on their walls. Ffs.
This is, really, about as minimal as you can possibly get. Personally, though I don’t find this appealing at all, I kind of think it was fair enough cuz he was the FIRST one to do it. So in many ways, minimalism was actually at that point finished a few years after it was started.
This Is what it all means. That’s all. What I don’t understand is why people are STILL DOING IT ALMOST A CENTURY LATER.
There is one more thing, I suppose. In 1927 or so this guy called Duchamp got reallllly sick of all the isms and perhaps even the turtle-necks (the real reason that ‘artistic’ people wear these is so that when they plunge their heads into one another’s anuses, they get a nice tight seal.)
He put a urinal into an art exhibition in Dusseldorf, and signed it “MUTT.”
Not sure what that means in German… in the same show he also placed a BOTTLE DRYING RACK that he had found on the street. We have this exact bottle rack in the Melbourne Gallery, on permanent display. Not. Kidding.
He called these things ‘found objects.’
I believe that, at the time, he was taking the piss.
He described this radical new ‘art’ as ‘Dada.’ At the time this was German slang for excrement. I am guessing that he was making a pretty clear point. Perhaps not taking himself seriously and POP unplugging his head from where it was buried (oh no! I have stepped outside POST-MODERNISM! I am inferring what the artist meant! Shame! Shame on me!)
Anyhoo, there was uproar, furor, whilst the fuhrer was failing to draw poodles.
Then…. people were impressed.
“Wow” echoed the critical theorists from the brown caverns where their heads were lodged – “Wow. That’s not funny or insulting, that is – It’s
Thousands tried to jam their heads up Duchamp’s bottom, I imagine.
This has become the only other choice within the realms of contemporary art (also called ‘HIGH ART” elitist motherf
So doing something that in itself declares what you are doing ridiculous is the goal here. Further than that – not merely worthless and pathetic but actively offensive. This is inscribed in contemporary art theory and practice… seemingly forever more. It’s been around 80 years now and it still going strongly; obnoxious, vile, insulting and often outright gross.
There is also that the vast array of black turtlenecked arrogant wieners have forgotten the original point and enthusiastically push forward with ever more disgusting and stupid malformations.
These are, of course, oh yes! Of course!! Telling ya!@ Our government is guilty as hell of paying hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, for “Dada” um… works.
I KNOW that the Jackson Pollock minimalist piece of crap cost millions in Australian government tax revenue.
A quick list of contemporary “Dada” ‘artworks.’
Damian Hirst started at 16 with a photo of himself next to a real severed head. Whether he had any idea about ‘Dada-ism’ yet is realllly doubtful. I think he is one creepy, scary person.
Followed by a bunch of shit minimalist ‘installations’ (a desk in a glass box, a pharmacy replete with shelves and bottles etc. A pink screen print with a few bits of rocks printed on it. Etc.)
Then he got FAMOUS yeah go Damian you fucking CREEP.
‘Mother and child divided’ which contains – and i quote – Glass and steel tanks, GRP composites, glass, silicon, cow, calf and formaldehyde solution.
He killed a cow, and a calf and put them in giant glass boxes full of formaldehyde (not sure if this is the one where he also chainsawed it in half). I know he did do that and put it in a similar tank display. He wielded the chainsaw himself.
Went on to put animal heads and body pieces into other glass boxes in pieces.
Gotta stop now. I feel sick.
The idea is that he is deriding the establishment – being a disgusting offensive fuck and getting paid millions for it so he can go ‘nyah nyah’ to the critical community.
“Dada” IS the establishment.
Minimalism and Dada are everything, EVERYTHING that is acceptable in “high art.”
Whatever you do. In this context.
Don’t feel excluded or at a loss as to how these things fit into the world.
Feel disgust. Compared to the ‘artists’ and the critical ‘academia’ that cling to the sphincters;
Whatever it is that you have chosen as your life’s working pursuit, even if you are unemployable, a criminal, a sociopath – the chances are still pretty damned good that YOU are more valuable than the social cancer of most contemporary art. You are bound to be, you MUST BE, more human, give more to this beleaguered world. I swear to you that when you sift the moments of your life through your hands, there is infinitely more meaning in every action that you take.
Two years ago a ‘contemporary artist’ starved a dog to death on film. As a ‘performance piece.’

(editor’s note: I have only changed this very slightly by removing such things as typos, spelling errors, and one relatively unimportant error of fact. By the way, after 12 years, the words “Remodernism” and “Remodernist” are still not recognized by Microsoft Word or any other spell-check software known to me.)


Carson Collins

Joined September 2007

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Artist's Description

Art Theory and Why Your Opinions Are Right

by Paul D. Robertson

(a most excellent Remodernist rant edited by Carson Collins)

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