Monday, March 24, 2014

Thoughts From Trac 2014 Part 1: Postmodernism's Rules

Diebenkorn Girl With Plant
Hopper Western Motel
Diebenkorn Seated Woman Green Interior

Hopper Intermission
Although in many ways a division already exists, put firmly in place by our educational and cultural institutions, let me start by saying that I do not feel the need to hold postmodern art and representational art in opposition to each other. The history of art can be seen as cyclical and we can draw from many traditions. Art movements can be seen as a continuum; as something that is relative to the taste, development, and character of the artist and the viewer, and just as with temperatures, where there is no line that distinguishes where hot stops and cold begins, there does not need to be a line defining where postmodernism stops and representationalism begins.

That said, I found much to agree with in some of the discussions at TRAC; and language that describes and clarifies the mechanics at play that have often left me feeling at odds with large segments of the art world.

The rules of Postmodernism, how art is defined and judged in our times, were defined: self -referential, ironic, unemotional, using distancing objectivity, and innovative – it must always be something that’s never been done before.

Keynote speaker Roger Scruton bemoaned the"jokes" in contemporary art; Marcel Duchamp's urinal, Koon’s Balloon dog, Hirst’s pickled animals, and he spoke of kitsch in the negative sense of the word.

Koons Balloon Dog
“Current society is a culture of self loathing permeated with violence and objectification. “
“Kitsch is fake emotion, demands less of the viewer, it is easier to deal with.”
“Jeff Koons’ pre-emptive kitsch, pretense on all levels, so ostentatiously kitsch one hesitates to judge it.” And quoting Oscar Wilde, “Cynics know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”

I appreciate a good joke as much as the next person, however I've also observed how the class clown uses humor to distance, to cloak and defend against genuine feelings and interaction. While there is undeniable cleverness in much contemporary art and often notable intelligence, I understand that irony's power is destructive and after awhile all the jokes become worn out and tiring. I'm just left wondering, is that it? There must be more to art than endless cerebral kidding around.

Banksy No Future
So where does today’s representational painter fit in to this postmodern art world?

To be continued …


Unknown said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more about this conference and what you thought about it. One of my friends from Seattle was there as well.

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Rebecca, more is coming. It's taken a bit to collect my thoughts.

That's great that your friend from Seattle was there - I'd love to know what they thought too.

There were people there from all over.

Kathryn Hansen said...

very interesting, I look forward to Thursdays post. I do tend to agree with his assessment of modern art, it's really not bag either.

Katherine Kean said...

Kathryn, it was an interesting conference with many present in agreement.

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