Magazine article Insight on the News

If It Quacks, Duck - It Must Be Modern Art

Magazine article Insight on the News

If It Quacks, Duck - It Must Be Modern Art

Article excerpt

There is muttering in the art world -- as it is called. Is it possible that the dreadful dullards who inhabit this world are finally realizing that they have been had?

Ever since Picasso gave up serious painting for the easy buck -- and with increasing regularity over the years -- the so-called art that the dullards buy has been humbug. What the devotees of the art world have been peering down on, peering up toward and -- more recently -- viewing from behind trembling hands have been mere trinkets of no higher quality than the trinkets brought to the civilized world by the Goths, Visigoths and Huns. Yet Hun art was fashioned by well-intentioned barbarians hoping to confer a digitalis of joy on their chiefs. Today's art is fashioned, for the most part, by quacks and the occasional fool.

The quacks flourish thanks to the art world's general ignorance and to its denizens' talent for shaking down government arts councils. If the bureaucrats at the National Endowment for the Arts refuse to fund a jar of aesthetically arranged urine or a dysrhythmic dancer covered in chocolate sauce, the spurned quack can claim censorship and the mantle of Leonardo da Vinci. In time, the endowment forks over the cash. Its bureaucrats do not know the meaning of censorship, or much about the talents of da Vinci.

The general stupidity of which I speak is poignantly displayed by the recently fired chairman of the NEA, John Frohnmayer, in his imbecilic new memoir. Therein he speaks of art and Washington politics in the childish sham pieties of official Washington: "It seemed to me that we had to persuade Congress that the United States could not prosper without creativity." Now there you have a bold thought. And he ends this statement of pish with the Philistine's conclusion of posh -- to wit, there's money in it: "A democracy, particularly one that wants to be economically competitive, must have dreamers, thinkers and doers:" Mike Deaver used to sound like this. Now Dave Gergen does, and Bill Clinton and Hillary and all the Washington frauds.

Commenting on the above passage, the wise and learned critic Samuel Lipman notes in the New Criterion, "As with so many people who don't have strong aesthetic or intellectual grounding, Mr. …

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