Friday, March 07, 2014

"Styles may vary in the Modern section, but an idea of what making art involves is shared by most: It should be the expression of one person’s singular vision.

In the Contemporary section, the typical artist is something else: a canny juggler of ready-made signifiers. Everywhere you look, you see artists mixing and matching generic styles, images and devices in the forms of photographs, paintings, high-tech simulations and myriad nontraditional materials, sometimes using all these at once. Almost always, they do so to cerebrally sophisticated ends, as often as not in order to riff on art itself."

This argument, coming from a critic who should know better, and in North America's last remaining paper of record, is specious and embarrassing.  Ken Johnson confuses a singular style with a singular vision, presupposes that a singular style in and of itself is a sign of aesthetic seriousness, and ignores the stylistic plurality of Duchamp, Picasso & many of his other Modern heroes in his rush to condemn their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Johnson may think that "the Contemporary section" is no good, and may well be right, but his isn't an effective, or aesthetically honest, way to prove it.

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