Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Art, especially modern art is very contextual. Warhol's grocery carton sculptures were created during the golden era of advertising and globalization of trade, for example.

Art is also very subjective. Some like simplicity, some like complexity. Some like clarity, some like stories and implicit context. Some like subdued colors, some like saturated hues.

This makes art very complicated. That is why art history exist.

It is alleged that the CIA sought to influence Western art, coordinating the bankrolling/support of artists (including Warhol if I remember correctly) that represented a depoliticized vision of art. A potential cultural/intellectual enemy of capitalism was neutered by the transformation of institutionally championed art into a game of conceptual accounting rather than reflection on the human condition.


Sure , it's known that the CIA gave money to the Ford Foundation who then gave donations to various literary magazines, art reviews, and visual arts enterprises during the Cold War. It took decades for this to come out, although it was long suspected. "We" needed some bona fide art with an accompanying criticsl rationale to balance that of the Soviets.

One can interpret the whole ethos of the New York School of the postwar years in this way. Heroic individuals like Jackson Pollack striking out and defining whole genres of art, total opposite of the dreary collective approach of the Soviets.

This does not make the art invalid, suspect, or whatever. It should challenge us to look beyond the canonical figures, and to maintain an independent perspective on their work.

bad art is very contextual

Much like how a bad joke need to be explained and people ignore and get annoyed by bad elevator music. But, feel free to listen to that used car salesman selling that just like new 1971 pinto.

No…all art is very contextual.

Picasso's most famous work, Guernica, has many contexts to which it can be interpreted—not least of which the Spanish Civil War, upon which it is a meditation. Yet, for me, the only context that matters is that I think that Picasso's Cubist period (of which Guernica is a part) is a horrible waste of his talent, which is much better demonstrated in his blue period.

Basically, I don't care for Cubist work. Inconsistent, I know, because I happen to love the Surrealism in Dalí's work.

I think that Guernica transcends it's medium and genre. It still affects me as a political and moral statement more than anything. (I actually like a lot of cubism, but then, I'm an animator.)

My favorite story about Guernica, no idea if it's true or not, concerns the time when Picasso was living in Paris during the German occupation. The Gestapo like to visit his studio and harass him, but he was just a bit too internationally famous for them to just eliminate him.

One visit the SS guy was walking around, berating Picasso about his degenerate art when he came across a postcard of Guernica. (At that time the painting had an international reputation and was being held in America for safe keeping.)

The Gestapo guy picked up the postcard and shook it at Picasso and asked, "Did you do this?"

To which Picasso replied, "Oh no, you did."

I read it on the internet and heard it on TV, so it must be a true story.

Edit: Here's Simon Schama telling the story on a BBC documentary on art: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVycXNUh6YU

You just edited the post but at 30ft wide I was a bit skeptic about anyone "shaking" Guernica at Picasso :-)

I originally had it as a "print" but the Schama story had it as a post card. My post always pointed out the painting was in New York.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact