Skunk - Contemporary Art

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[Excerpt from]
By: Nainsink Tagore

Nance: "Despite the current tolerant attitude towards unfettered freedom of artistic expression, I don't think that anyone should find fault with the statement that: Though cacophony and dissonance may be found in some of the greatest music ever written or played - all sound with intermittent silence is not necessarily music - although all music is composed of sounds - usually juxtaposed with periods of silence along with complementing or competing sounds. Nor do I believe that one would be faulted for rejecting the notion that every series of words separated by blank spaces make for what is considered literature. However, if one were to question today's claim that every graphic expression or conception of a possible visual manifestation results in a work of art - one would be considered a Philistine - and if that wanting-to-be-called-a-work-of-art was determined by a respected critic to be lacking - and was produced by someone belonging to any of the groups currently arbitrarily favored by the determiners of the Politically Correct, then that critic would, most-likely, be considered a bigot, as well."

Anthony: "Perhaps, because individuals, usually for their own enjoyment, go to concerts or buy the recordings of sounds they relate to - and people ordinarily buy books with a sequence of words that they can comprehend - the catering to the demands of the Politically Correct is not quite as destructive of the criteria that commonly delineates music and literature - as it is of the graphic and plastic arts."

Sean: "Yes. I've witnessed that effect every time I go to an exhibit of contemporary art. In fact, what is now included in the parameters of what used to be considered fine art - has absolutely no boundaries. Everything is art, and everyone is an artist. What was once known as the plastic and graphic arts - need no longer even result in a visual manifestation. Just a written or verbalized concept is sufficient to cause anything to be considered fine art. All of which, due to the complete lack of any criteria delineating what is and what isn't to be considered art - specifically the plastic and graphic arts - allows for the dominance of the administrators of the Politically Correct to determine just what is and what isn't fine art."

Nance: "True. But this has produced an entire art industry. We now have a plethora of pay-to-show vanity and cooperative art galleries - all with the sole requirement for membership being the ability of the so-called-artist - and nowadays, everyone is an artist - to contribute to a goodly portion of the expenses of such cooperatives, as well as to the upkeep and profits of the vanity galleries."

Anthony: "That's not the only thing that I've noticed that denigrates the significance of the plastic arts - as well as to the stature of those individuals with the skills to make truly fine art. One need only read the nonsense written by those individuals claiming to be experts to realize that, without criteria having boundaries, art criticism is meaningless bullshit - subject to the non-art whims of anyone claiming to be a critic - who has the ability to have his or her views published."

Sean: "I think the only advice one need heed, when viewing what is currently touted as art, is: spend more than a fleeting moment in doing so. Moreover, before viewing it, it's a good idea not to read or listen to the artist's, curator's, critic's or gallery's comments about the work. Since it's supposed to be a visual statement - it should require no convoluted rationalization. If it does, it's merely an illustration of an individual's subjective opinion. If you must listen to or read an opinionated blurb, wait until after you've viewed the work and given it thoughtful consideration."


The following is an edited excerpt from Skunk-"Gutless Critics"

Looking back over the past twenty years or so, SKUNK can't recall seeing an unequivocally negative review of artworks exhibited at any gallery or museum.


- Newspaper and magazine art critics fear law suits (a la Ruskin/ Whistler).
- Newspapers and magazines rely on the ad-money from museums and galleries: commercial and vanity.
- To keep their jobs, critics must conform to the will of their employers.
- Critics are fearful of being ridiculed for not having acknowledged the next big thing.
- Everything is art and everyone's an artist - so, who can judge? - Besides, nobody cares.
- The need to be politically correct deters critics from judging many works subjectively.
- By fudging their opinion, it's easier for critics to be nice guys and gals and avoid taking on the responsibility for giving an honest negative critique - and risk being considered a rotten SOB.

Despite the obvious conclusion that the reviews written by art critics are nothing more than non-committal, pseudo-intellectual gibberish - it's become the kind of critiquing that the semi-literate-about-art layperson considers fitting and proper. As a consequence, a critic who writes a credible negative review of the works by anyone claiming to be an artist - or who faults the doings of individuals involved in any aspect of the administrating, teaching, studying and exhibiting of what is alleged, these days, to be fine art - is considered a ruthless and mean-spirited individual.

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