WRITE for ATol ADVERTISE MEDIA KIT GET ATol BY EMAIL ABOUT ATol CONTACT US
Asia Time Online - Daily News
             
Asia Times Chinese
AT Chinese



    Front Page
     Jan 30, 2007
Page 2 of 2
Admit it - you really hate modern art
By Spengler

opera Wozzeck, something of a compromise between Schoenberg's abstract style and conventional Romanticism. His biographers report that the opera gave him a "comfortable living".

After decades of philanthropic support for abstract (that is, atonal) music, symphony orchestras have given up inflicting it on reluctant audiences, and instead are commissioning works from composers who write in a more accessible style. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the shift back to tonal music "comes as large orchestras face declining attendance and



an elderly base of subscribers. Nationwide symphony attendance fell 13% to 27.7 million in the 2003-04 season from 1999-2000, according to the American Symphony Orchestra League."

The ideological message is the same, yet the galleries are full, while the concert halls are empty. That is because you can keep it at a safe distance when it hangs on the wall, but you can't escape it when it crawls into your ears. In other words, your spontaneous, visceral hatred of atonal music reflects your true, healthy, normal reaction to abstract art. It is simply the case that you are able to suppress this reaction at the picture gallery.

There are, of course, people who truly appreciate abstract art. You aren't one of them; you are a decent, sensible sort of person without a chip on your shoulder against the world. The famous collector Charles Saatchi, proprietor of an advertising firm, is an example of the few genuine admirers of this movement. When Damien Hirst arranged his first student exhibition at the London Docklands, reports Wikipedia, "Saatchi arrived at the second show in a green Rolls-Royce and stood open-mouthed with astonishment in front of (and then bought) Hirst's first major 'animal' installation, A Thousand Years, consisting of a large glass case containing maggots and flies feeding off a rotting cow's head."

The Lord of the Flies is an appropriate benchmark for the movement. Thomas Mann in his novel Doktor Faustus tells the story of a composer based mainly on Arnold Schoenberg, whom resentment drives to make a pact with the Devil. Mann's protagonist cannot create, so out of rancor sets out to "take back" the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, by writing atonal lampoons of them that will destroy the listener's ability to hear the original.

Many critics maintain that Picasso's famous painting originally named "The Bordello at Avignon" (Les Demoiselles d'Avignon) was the single most influential modernist statement. In this painting Picasso lampooned El Greco's great work The Vision of St John. Picasso reduces the horror of the opening of the Fifth Seal in the Book of Revelation to a display of female flesh in a whorehouse. [1] Picasso is trying to "take back" El Greco, by corrupting our capacity to see the original.

By inflicting sufficient ugliness upon us, the modern artists believe, they will wear down our capacity to see beauty. That, I think, is the point of putting dead animals into glass cases, or tanks of formaldehyde. But I am open-minded; there might be some value to this artistic technique after all. If Damien Hirst were to undertake a self-portrait in formaldehyde, I would be the first to subscribe to a commission.

Note
1. Wikipedia.

(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

 1 2 Back

 

 
 



All material on this website is copyright and may not be republished in any form without written permission.
Copyright 1999 - 2007 Asia Times Online (Holdings), Ltd.
Head Office: Unit B, 16/F, Li Dong Building, No. 9 Li Yuen Street East, Central, Hong Kong
Thailand Bureau: 11/13 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand 77110