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  • "The Mona Lisa"... "The Pieta"... "The Girl with a Pearl Earring."

  • For a score of centuries, artists enriched Western society with their works of astonishing beauty.

  • "The Night Watch"...

  • "The Thinker"...

  • "The Rocky Mountains."

  • Master after master, from Leonardo, to Rembrandt, to Bierstadt, produced works that inspired, uplifted, and deepened us.

  • And they did this by demanding of themselves the highest standards of excellence,

  • improving upon the work of each previous generation of masters, and continuing to aspire to the highest quality attainable.

  • But something happened on the way to the 20th Century.

  • The profound, the inspiring and the beautiful were replaced by the new, the different, and the ugly.

  • Today the silly, the pointless, and the purely offensive are held up as the best of modern art.

  • Michelangelo carved his "David" out of a rock.

  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art just offers us a rock, -- a rock -- all 340 tons of it.

  • That's how far standards have fallen.

  • How did this happen?

  • How did the thousand-year ascent towards artistic perfection and excellence die out?

  • It didn't. It was pushed out.

  • Beginning in the late 19th century, a group dubbed "The Impressionists"

  • rebelled against the French Academie des Beaux Arts and its demand for classical standards.

  • Whatever their intentions, the new modernists sowed the seeds of aesthetic relativism --

  • the "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" mentality.

  • Today everybody loves the Impressionists.

  • And, as with most revolutions, the first generation or so produced work of genuine merit.

  • Monet, Renoir, and Degas still maintained elements of disciplined design and execution,

  • but with each new generation, standards declined until there were no standards.

  • All that was left was personal expression.

  • The great art historian Jakob Rosenberg wrote that

  • quality in art "is not merely a matter of personal opinion but to a high degree . . . objectively traceable."

  • But the idea of a universal standard of quality in art is now usually met with strong resistance if not open ridicule.

  • "How can art be objectively measured?" I'm challenged.

  • In responding, I simply point to the artistic results produced by universal standards compared to what is produced by relativism.

  • The former gave the world "The Birth of Venus" and "The Dying Gaul,"

  • while the latter has given us "The Holy Virgin Mary," fashioned with cow dung and pornographic images,

  • and "Petra," the prize-winning sculpture of a policewoman squatting and urinating -- complete with a puddle of synthetic urine.

  • Without aesthetic standards, we have no way to determine quality or inferiority.

  • Here's a test I give my graduate students, all talented and well educated.

  • Please analyze this Jackson Pollock painting and explain why it is good.

  • It is only after they give very eloquent answers

  • that I inform them that the painting is actually a close up of my studio apron.

  • I don't blame them; I would probably have done the same since it's nearly impossible to differentiate between the two.

  • "And who will determine quality?" is another challenge I'm given.

  • If we are to be intellectually honest, we all know of situations where professional expertise is acknowledged and depended upon.

  • Take figure skating in the Olympics, where artistic excellence is judged by experts in the field.

  • Surely we would flinch at the contestant who indiscriminately threw himself across the ice

  • and demanded that his routine be accepted as being as worthy of value as that of the most disciplined skater.

  • Not only has the quality of art diminished, but also the subject matter has gone from the transcendent to the trashy.

  • Where once artists applied their talents to scenes of substance and integrity from history, literature, religion, mythology, etc.,

  • many of today's artists merely use their art to make statements, often for nothing more than shock value.

  • Artists of the past also made statements at times,

  • but never at the expense of the visual excellence of their work.

  • It's not only artists who are at fault; it is equally the fault of the so-called art community:

  • the museum heads, gallery owners, and the critics who encourage and financially enable the production of this rubbish.

  • It is they who champion graffiti and call it genius, promote the scatological and call it meaningful.

  • It is they who, in reality, are the naked emperors of art,

  • for who else would spend $10 million dollars on a rock and think it is art.

  • But why do we have to be victims of all this bad taste? We don't.

  • By the art we patronize at museums or purchase at galleries, we can make our opinions not only known but felt.

  • An art gallery, after all, is a business like any other.

  • If the product doesn't sell, it won't be made.

  • We can also support organizations like The Art Renewal Center that work to restore objective standards to the art world.

  • And we can advocate the teaching of classical art appreciation in our schools.

  • Let's celebrate what we know is good and ignore what we know is not.

  • By the way, the white background you see behind me is not simply a white graphic backdrop.

  • It is a pure white painting by noted artist Robert Rauschenberg at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

  • I'm Robert Florczak for Prager University.

"The Mona Lisa"... "The Pieta"... "The Girl with a Pearl Earring."

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Why is Modern Art so Bad?

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    Jacky Avocado Tao   に公開 2015 年 08 月 03 日
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