Here Thar Be Monsters!

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11.4.17

It Ain't Art Till It Hurts

In my career, I have been a writer, producer, director, actor, designer, sculptor, painter, poet, musician, composer, cinematographer, videographer, photographer, critic, and reviewer.  I have studied art, art history, theater, film, and language.  I have been a patron and collector.  And in every case, I have assiduously avoided glorifying the profane and shocking my audience.

I love art.  I am an artist.  I create provocative things that are pleasant and edify.

I hate contemporary art.

I detest Mark Rothko and Roy Lichtenstein.  I would kindle my hearth with Jackson Pollock if I could afford the price of admission.  I find Andy Warhol detestable and pedestrian.  I think much of Edward Albee is disposable.  I find much of Philip Glass' later work to be a parody of his earlier genius.  And pretty much anything produced in any art form since the late 70s is vile and corrupt.

That's the short answer.

At some point in the history of art, beginning around the turn of the 20th century, art took a dark and foreboding turn into the nihilistic and desperate.  With the decay of the education system across the board, artists were forced to do anything to get attention, though once gotten, they had no idea what to do with it.  So they pissed on crucifixes, shat on canvasses, shot spastic out-of-focus rubbish, and pounded their tail ends on keyboards like children unable to express themselves with good diction.

The critics, unable to utter coherent phrases, oohed and ahhed over these sophomoric tantrums as if they were timeless masterpieces.  They convinced the well-heeled to drop obscene amounts of money on these trash heaps, which they did because they, too, were uneducated and slovenly.

Across the aesthetic spectrum, crass practitioners reinforced each other's errors.  The idiots created rubbish, which the critics hailed as genius, which the nouveau riche bought in a craven attempt to look chic.

All the while, the uncultured cretins pressed the concept that art was not objective, that art was "expression", and that art was nearly anything removed from context and well lit with a glass of wine and a few slices of over-ripe cheese.

The fact is, art is a language that has grammar and vocabulary developed over centuries of human experience.  It can be spell-checked and graded just like any high school essay.  Most especially, once you are trained in the language, you recognize slang and poor usage immediately.

When schools (at any level) are stressed financially, without fail the first thing to be jettisoned is the art department.  Not that it matters much, since most art teachers are clueless about the fundamentals, nor how to relate them to the world at large.

Most people anymore are unaware that art has its own grammar, vocabulary and tropes, like any language.  It should be taught as a language and used as a language.  It has genres and traditions, like any literary system, and it has a profound effect on society because it transcends boundaries like no other language can.

The grammar of art includes balance, harmony, rhythm, variety, emphasis, gradation, movement, pattern, and proportion.  These create the syntax of art - the composition of the visual sentence into which meaning is poured.

The vocabulary of art is space, line, shape, form, color, texture, and value.  These are the words that carry meaning and emotion.  They create depth, breadth, heighth, weight, and significance.

On top of these are the tropes, such as myth, legend, history, religion, humanity, and dozens of other tales and emotions.

At best, contemporary art is a jumble of vocabulary without structure or meaning.  In the case of Jackson Pollock and many others, it is literally letters and words completely out of context, highlighting form without function, and entirely devoid of meaning.

By the time the art world had devolved to Andy Warhol, art had become glorification of common objects far beyond any true significance.  At this point, the mundane and profane had triumphed over the aesthetic and beautiful.  It was akin to speaking jibberish interlaced with profanities.  In other words, it was not only meaningless, it was offensive.

The purpose of this devolution of art is horrific in its simplicity.  It is a concerted effort to reduce the human mind to its most base level and remove any possibility of rising above it.  Beethoven has become Snoop Dogg.  Michaelangelo has reduced to Millie Brown.  William Shakespeare has rotted out to Hamilton.

Make no mistake, this has been a planned train wreck.  If humans are unable to understand the great works of the past, much less approach or exceed their artistry, then they will be entirely too stupid to challenge the ruling class.  How gratifying it must be for the Master Class to profit from the swine wallowing in the slime, literally immersing cultural icons in feces and urine and celebrating it as transcendent.

Soon, if now already, humanity will be cut off from its heritage, unable to grasp the basics, much less interpret the message.  It does not matter the medium - whether words or paint, stone or music.  Once divorced of history and culture, the masses become nothing more than malleable objects and playthings of the self-appointed gods.

If you have children or grandchildren, it is vital that they receive proper education in the arts - all arts.  They must be taught the grammar and vocabulary of art, no matter what medium.  They should not be allowed to graduate without having written a story, acted in a play, recited a poem, thrown and fired a pot, painted a canvas, and sung a song.  They should know not only the structure of the language, but at least have spoken a few paragraphs of the great masters.

In fact, when was the last time you went to the museum, enjoyed a play, or attended the symphony?  The best teacher is example.

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