Intolerance of the Avant Garde

Art should challenge the status quo, the staid complacencies of the bourgeoisie; it should even shock. So goes a standard Leftist line. But when art actually DOES that, they do their best to suppress it. That helps to explain why the ideas of the avant garde have been the same for more than a century, and why, today, avant garde means defending the statist status quo.

James Panero and Roger Kimball show us what’s been banned at the Pratt Institute:

14 thoughts on “Intolerance of the Avant Garde

  1. This is why most members of the public tend to roll their eyes when artists start congratulating themselves on how brave they are when they mock Christianity, capitalism, Sarah Palin, etc.

    1. It’s worse than that when you consider the effect that enforcement of the idea of The Emperor’s New Clothes has on the intellect and demeanor of the hordes of kids that are forced to endure museums that place scribble art in the same path through galleries that contain Van Gogh. It’s a form of child abuse exactly designed to destroy the very concept of talent and rarity and of aspiration towards a lofty end result after years of hard work and self searching.

      ‘The Painted Word’ by Tom Wolfe skewers scribble and color field art by exposing that it was not expressive at all but in fact based on one art critic’s (Clement Greenberg) theory about The Flat Picture Plane. Painting, you see, is merely about pigments applied to canvas and has nothing to do with visual content or impact. The result was the likes of Helen Frankenthaler who made painting even flatter by not using any gesso or painting medium but just staining the canvas itself.

      Clement Greenberg was actually the artist responsible for the bulk of the million dollar garbage that still fills museums and auction houses. The well known artists involved played the mere role of his SoHo district studio assistants. He pointed at what sort of thing they should pursue and they did so, slavishly. Mondrian’s huge enjoyment of flower paintings had to go, for instance.

  2. Back around 1840-1845 the trendy avant-garde set in France made “Epatez les bourgeois” their crusade. One hundred and sixty years later this is still the4 theme of the “avant garde” and the cultural elites. Don’t you think these incredibly creative and imaginative people could think of something new in the course of 160 years? This is beyond stale and beyond cliche. Its positively antique, quaint and soooo boring!!!

  3. Modern artists and musicians of the so-called “serious” variety are, and have been, a very, very bad joke since at least the 1940’s. They have absolutely nothing that could be remotely considered artistic or compositional technique, and so amount to nothing of any consequence. They really and truly are know-nothings: They claim to be part of a tradition they know absolutely nothing about other than what they were required to memorize to pass whatever tests were given to them in order to acquire whatever credentials they may have.

    This was driven home to me when I got my MM degree, and later when I was in a doctoral program for music. The entire composition faculty at this very famous music department was utterly ignorant of what I would consider the essentials of compositional technique. You know, harmony, counterpoint, and form. I literally blew them all away in those areas, and they absolutely hated me for it.

    The fact that I’m not shy about my libertarianism and laugh out loud at leftist pretzel logic probably didn’t help my case [Ya think? – Vox Internus].

  4. How, exactly, are these people in any way elite? They’re called the “cultural elites” but I’ve never seen anything to indicate any sort of superiority on their part when it comes to anything, culture least of all.

    Does anyone pay attention to them anymore, other than themselves?

    The true cultural elites are those who contribute to our culture and enhance it. People who make our world a better place.

    These cretins don’t qualify.

  5. There is little artistic about this and nothing avant garde. It is a political cartoon, obvious, unfunny and poorly designed.

  6. To Lee Reynolds,

    Well, they got laws passed so that as a taxpayer you pay for them to do all that, through the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, not to mention the really gargantuan indirect subsidies through student aid, and State support of public universities and “cultural” programs.

    So who is really smart?

  7. Wow. The words of the Provost:

    “We teach what we call “Poetic Pragmatism”. It is an educational approach that believes that your generation will need to integrate your individual talent, artistic senses, and poetic vision with the pragmatic challenges of our nation and our world.

    We will help you build your practical skills and develop your voice–so necessary for expressing your vision in the arts, design, architecture and writing–while we challenge you to apply your vision to everything: global education, climate warming, poverty, sustainability, health care, community, etc.”

    “Global education, climate warming, poverty, sustainability, health care, community”—that’s “everything”?!?

  8. Hucbald—I know what you mean. I know someone who just got a DMA in Composition. As an amateur composer myself, I asked him what the coursework was like, and in particular what music theory courses he had taken. I was astounded by his answer. Nothing beyond the basic undergraduate theory sequence (at this university, two courses!) was required. The composition courses consisted of no actual instruction, as I define the term, but consisted of students playing their compositions for one another and giving and receiving comments. That was it.

    Here’s the winner of a recent composition contest (full disclosure: which I entered!), if you want to see what’s valued in music departments these days:–46106190

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