A new conception of ‘art’

The popular idea of art as ‘creative crafting’, stretching from arranging flowers in the home to classical oil paintings in museums, is, when all else is said and done, centred around the idea of ‘taste’. ‘Taste’ is itself a matter of ‘sensual aesthetic sensitivity’, in which we focus our attention on the sensual features of […]

The inner meaning of Cindy Sherman

There’s nothing essentially ‘wrong’ with treating each and every Cindy Sherman photograph in aesthetic terms, as if it were a standalone object, subject only to the rules of aesthetic beauty and craft. You would then be looking at the colours, and shapes, and composition, and the print grain. You would think about the formal arrangement, […]

The beautiful and the interesting: aesthetics vs art

To grasp the unique power of art – the power to fascinate and enthral – and to allow it to work its own particular magic, we have to be able to distinguish it from the altogether different power of aesthetics, which is all about the power of beauty. ‘The beautiful’, as an experiential possibility, with […]

Marianne Moore and a key principle of modern art

Marianne Moore wrote: “Academic feeling, or prejudice possibly, in favor of continuity and completeness is opposed to miscellany—to music programs, composite picture exhibitions, newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Any zoo, aquarium, library, garden or volume of letters, however, is an anthology and certain of these selected findings are highly satisfactory. The science of assorting and the […]

Robert Hughes and the ‘dumb show’ of modern art

This is a transcript of Hughes’s conclusion to his televisual survey of modern art (The Shock of the New), and the last words to camera in Episode 8 ‘The Future That Was [End of Modernity]’. It is worth quoting in full: “We finish where modernism began, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps the etiquette […]

Robert Hughes and Andy Warhol’s ‘stupidity’

Robert Hughes described Warhol as ‘as one of the stupidest people I’d ever met in my life. Because he had nothing to say.’ Hughes was dismissive of much of modern art because, like many other old school aesthetes, he never managed to understand it. And over the course of the ‘my life’ in question, Robert […]

Understanding modern art

This purpose of this blog is to review all aspects of modern art in the light of basic distinction between decorative crafting (aesthetics) and art proper, which is a form of vicarious narrative that is characteristically ‘unsettling’ and ‘uncanny’. Aesthetics is about beauty; art is about congruence with unusual realms of the imagination. Articles explaining […]