Monday, July 9, 2007

Blah, blah, blah (couldn't resist)

So as you've gathered I was at MoMA the other day admiring the new works by Richard Serra. I'm just part of a big crowd who believe that he is a great artist producing great art. But wandering through his works (literally) I was mulling over two ideas.

In our post-modern times, we are hesitant to crown artists with laurels of greatness. We are more than willing to bid up their auction prices into the 8-digit range, but shy when it comes to asserting their greatness shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the past. Why? The burden of historicity (we won't know who is truly great until the dust has settled), or perhaps a reflection of our own insecure age. But I think we shouldn't shy away from it. Even if we are wrong, and history rates our greats to be second-rate hacks, we are still participating in the process of art, which is almost as important as art itself. The process of art involves the patrons, the artists, the public, and the plate tectonics of critical opinion.

It's refreshing to see so many people celebrate Serra's work, but also a bit jarring. There was a fun house atmosphere, with children running up and down the snaking alleys between huge, torqued sheet of metal, delighting in the echo of their shouts. Adults - art lovers and tourists alike - also approached the works with a child-like wonder. What holds them up? What do they feel like? How do they sound (metallic, not surprisingly). I'm not a snob, not at all -- I don't believe in exclusion. But I can't deny a touch of the elitist in me: not the desire to exclude, but a belief in a certain set of values. In the case of art, these values seem a little old fashioned (or perhaps reactionary). A belief in form, a belief in idea, a belief in feeling. All of which explains why I like Serra.

Having recently mused in London on whether fun house art could be serious art, let alone great art (for example, most of the installations in Turbine Hall at the Tate), Serra steps forward to answer the question.

Enough self-important musings for the day. Next post will be on fashion!



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like art very much but I have always felt saying it is like granting oneself its ownership that no one -not even the ARTist- can never--the-less claim. Art makes oneSELF hAppy.

Related Posts with Thumbnails