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A Peanut History of Art (expressiveegg.org)
26 points by penfold 175 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments

If this diatribe against postmodern art is sincere, I would offer that the author does not have a full understanding of where art sits as we begin the 21st century. We are in the middle of a stunning revolution in art that addresses many of the exact issues the author raises.

Art is far from dead and postmodernism was certainly not the end of it. If the author is in a contemporary art gallery and thinks all modern artworks look the same, perhaps it is simply not very good modern art that he or she is looking at...

If the human experience hasn't ended, that means it is changing. And if it changes, then so too will the utility of art. The more people cry "art is dead", the greater the impending breakthrough.

> We are in the middle of a stunning revolution in art that addresses many of the exact issues the author raises.

Could you elaborate on this/provide some jumping-off points?

I'll give you a single word: Metamodernism.

I'm in the middle of reading it, but the viewpoint and arguments being made (not to mention overuse of oscillation/pendulums/art-as-cycle) hit me as being rooted there. There's not much to go on in terms of pure-visual MM artworks, a few performances by Ronkko, Turner, LaBeouf and some academic critiques.

The gist is an oscillation between the PostModern methods of operation (Irony, Pastiche, etc) and more sincere methods of expression. A balancing act that displaces the artist back and forth between objectivity/subjective belief, Abstract and concrete image. But what separates these works from proper Modernist/Postmodernist works is the cognizance of both and utilizing eithers methods in differing degrees.

Take a look at the "New Metamodernists" on FB, Notes on Metamodernism blog and do a search of Google Scholar. Hell, I attempted to make a API-Art service in a metamodern fashion, have an exhibition coming up wwhere I play with these techniques as well.


And here's an entertaining video on Shia Labeouf's antics that's probably a decent introduction to the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dsECbVahBw

@SuperPaintMan - Thanks for sharing the metamodernist blackbox - it made me smile.

Not sure I can do it justice in a paragraph, but generally I'm talking about the genre of social sculpture or "relational art" -- in which humans and human relationships are explored as creative material. You could think of this as parallel to the notion of "social media", except whereas social media tends to commodify individuals, relational art attempts to actualize individuals. These artworks usually try to have a direct impact on the world, such as through creating community, supplying a community with something that it needs, giving a voice to an underrepresented group, etc.

An example that sort of fits this (pardon that I don't know the name off the top of my head): - One recent artist gained fame as a sculptor in the modernist tradition, using found materials, junk, etc. His art started to garner a lot of money. So, he began to go into abandoned buildings in poor neighborhoods, cut out part of the wall or the floor, sell it as his artwork -- for hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Venice Biennale & such -- and then use that money to restore and revitalize the original abandoned building that he took the material from. He turns these buildings into community centers for the neighborhood. It's quite amazing. So really the ultimate artwork is the community center that is created and the benefit to the community that it creates, the human relationships it fosters, etc.

In other examples, artists simply create events through which people can engage with each other in some structured way. Famously, Rirkrit Tiravanija served a meal in an art gallery -- it was simply a public space to interact and be human. (There are other ways to read this artwork too... it is also a very real exhibition of culture... sort of like showing a found object but the found object is a dinner party).

There is a wide array of practices here...

But there are a few clear trends. In these new works, there is often no commodity to be bought and sold. Art rests not in images or sounds (post-internet, images and sound recordings are no longer rare), but instead the artists try to address real needs of people and communities. So, whereas the author of this essay describes modern art as purely abstract, subjective, meaningless, and designed purely for the ego of the artist, these new works are selfless, generous, and designed to have a direct impact on the world. In that sense, this movement draws from histories outside of art, such as civil rights, non-profits, grass-roots activism, etc.

Hope that is a good enough primer! In my opinion this shift (from tangible art to relational art) is as significant as the early 20th century shift from representational art to abstract art. It is a sea change, and we're right in the middle of it.

well said

Interesting way to attack post modernism by creating a diatribe in the truest expression of existentialism.

If I assume the piece is well written in the sense that it gets the authors point across (rather than hastily or sloppily written without respect for the ideas and words that convey them) then I have to wonder which part of the snake is being eaten and which part is doing the eating.

This article sounds suspiciously like turtlenecked art-house nonsense so common amongst the "art" community today.

  "These earliest images are multi-dimensional, integrated into a complete sensory experience." 
Hah! That's what he would like to think because it is a rather pretty and poetic embellishment.

But to say that these people are drawing these pictures without any definable (or understandable-to-us) send of self seems like a stretch of anthropological imagination. While most can agree cave art is not meant to be an objective portrayal of reality he seems to argue that its creators were merely channeling some otherworldly inner vision, without individual embellishment or initiative. That these people were merely agents to some shared idea without individual will. I disagree.

  "The universe was consciously felt and conceived as an organism; fundamentally benevolent, productive, mysterious and impenetrable to the rational mind; which is to say, female."
Uh, what?

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