Rotten state of art
There’s something (very) rotten in the state of the art. It is the supremacy of the art-elite, creating an insurmountable threshold for too many visual artists. It also leads to excesses, which bewilder the regular art-lover, but tickles the in-crowd. The international art-scene has no focus anymore and therefore it wallows in outrageous art, sometimes silly and funny, but most of the time ridiculous and preposterous. Last week somebody told me that a desperate artist became so furious with his lack of inspiration that he smashed a sandwich with peanut-butter onto the canvas, et voila: the artwork was there, appreciated and applauded by the clique that’s defines for us what is art and what is not.
This idiocy must have started somewhere, sometime and spread like artistic cancer through the art-world. To the best of my knowledge one man is responsible for this abuse. His name is Marchel Duchamp (1887-1968). Most of you will be familiar with the anecdote. Nevertheless it is worthwhile repeating this historical incident which led to the derailment of visual art.
The artist, Duchamp
Duchamp was a French artist who moved to New York, where he founded with some peers the American Society of Independent Artists, a Dadaistic movement, creating ‘ready-mades’; everyday objects, garnished with texts that had no association with the object.
Image the birthplace of this awkward invention: probably a pub where, after many bottle was emptied, the woozy minds came up with this rebellious idea. At that time an exhibition of the Society invited independent artists to contribute with the only condition that there were no conditions. Duchamp delivered a urinal which was connected upside down to a wooden platform. He signed the ‘pissoir’ with R. Mutt.
This entry created an enormous commotion, exactly the intention of the artist. Artist? Practical joker!
Before this provocation he already bought a bottle dryer and signed it, and mounted a bicycle wheel on a kitchen stool and declared it art. The wheel is still exhibited in the MOMA in New York, where many visitor look at in in a puzzled way, but hardly dare to speak their mind.
The urinal was a test-case. Would the commission accept this object as art?
One of the members commented: “This is scandalous!” and turned his face with disgust.
“It all depends on the way you look at it,” said another.
“We cannot exhibit this thing.”
“We will have to. According to our articles we will have to accept everything that can be regarded as art”
“So when a artist sticks a peace of horseshit on canvas, this is to be accepted as art?”
“I am afraid so. If he wants to express beauty this way, we will have to accept it. Anyway, if you look at it in an unprecedented way, you can see clear lines. Because he put it upside down R. Mutt puts our attention on the pure and simple form and introduces us to something new”
Excess: Urinal of $ 1.800.000
Right! This ‘something new’ paved the way to ‘concept-art’ in which the sky is the limit. It is not the work anymore, it is the idea. Do you have a ludicrous idea that can be shaped in an object or a happening? Welcome to the club! You are an artist!
Since this memorable incident the artworld changed into a jungle. The original urinal which was titled ‘Fountain’ got lost, but a replica was sold for $ 1.800.000 in 1999. The stunt of Duchamp is now one of the 500 most impressive artworks in history, according to the international art-elite.
The examples of excesses like this this are numerous. I will get deeper into these mad washout in the next blogs. I will appreciate if you contribute with examples that caught your eye and shocked your conception of the term ‘art’.
Join in on our mutual aversion of this aberration.