“Untitled,” a Basquiat painting from 1982, sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s auction.
If Everything Is Art, Then Nothing Is Art by Fred Ross (in response to a letter about modern art)
Raymond, Your English is good enough to understand much, if not all, of what you are saying.
But please consider this: If everything is art, then nothing is art.
For art to exist as a concept, it must have a definition, just like anything else in life.
Would you think it was OK to have different definitions of "computer," "swimming pool," or "airplane?" If you do, who would be willing to purchase a computer, take laps in a neighbor's pool, or purchase a ticket to Sydney?
If your computer could not turn on, or your swimming pool could not hold water, and your airplane could not fly, wouldn't it be "fraud" if you sold such things that did not meet the accepted definitions?
A work of fine art (painting and drawing) recreates a scene from reality using visual images from the real world which are widely understood and recognizable by human beings. Then using a carefully designed composition, expresses some aspect of what it means to be human, or how human beings perceive the world. The most powerful emotional moments in life tend to make the greatest works of art, encompassing feelings of love, hate, jealousy, fear, pain, joy, surprise, mischief, crime, political unrest, peace, avarice, gluttony, poverty, hunger, etc., etc.
All political and religious ideas as well as scenes expressing life and beauty on earth or in dreams, myths, stories, fantasies, of every type and sort, can only be accomplished using traditional realism, either academic or impressionist, or some combination thereof. You say you expect art to express your soul? Well this is the only way your soul can be expressed in drawing and painting.
Modernism suppresses and banishes all of the above, and in fact prevents visual freedom of speech. Most modernist works are not art at all due to their inability to communicate or express any of these ideas, concepts or thoughts. Does a Pollock, Klein, De Kooning or Rothko look like your fantasies, thoughts, beliefs or dreams? I think not.
Modernism is but a shell game played on the frail edge of human doubt in the unformed foundation of adolescent development. Conning people into "going along to get along," denying the evidence of their senses, and intimidating them into saying things they do not believe or see in order to be accepted by friends and teachers. Can you think of anything as deadening to your soul? The soul flourishes only through "truth, self respect and real knowledge." Parroting modernist ideologues is nearly as bad as saying and doing the bidding of tyrants who threaten life and limb for noncompliance.
Modernist professors threaten your self respect and sabotage developing self-confidence in your ability to judge what you see. What do you think the impact is on one's soul after lying and saying that they understand and find beautiful the inscrutable, the unfathomable, the deformed, and the bizarre?
Your dignity and humanity are stolen from you by such things, and you become a willing accomplice to undermining the three cornerstones that support the human soul: self-confidence, self-reliance and self-respect.
Modernism and post-modernism are the complete antithesis of fine art. They represent the elevation of the meaningless and the chaotic. Calling such things "fine art" is self-deception, even though everything about them, including the reasons given for celebrating them, are the elimination and destruction of the very things needed to create "real" fine art.
Your "page" that you mention does not have a corner called modernism which is needed to finish the page of "fine art." It is more like "matter" with "anti-matter" added to the corner. They cannot exist together. Modernism can only be deemed worthy if realism is denigrated and deemed unworthy. But how can realism, the direct representation of life and humanity, and all that we hold dear be unworthy? The acceptance of modernism means the devaluation of humanity as worthless. Look again at the works of realism denigrated by your professors. Everything that they say is bad is in fact better than everything that they say is good in the modernist works.
Try to see the contortions in reasoning and logic, and the rejection of common sense needed to celebrate those works. A free mind will never choose modernism. It goes against instinct and biology. Such choices are made only by troubled souls, that fearing rejection and ostracism, are willing to deny and defy their senses and their eyes.
Fred Ross Chairman, Art Renewal Center
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