Ed Driscoll.com Ed Driscoll.com
The Reactionary Art World
By Ed Driscoll · February 13, 2006 05:34 PM · Bobos In Paradise · The Return of the Primitive · The Substance of Style

In his cover story in National Review this week, Mark Steyn looked at how worn-out Hollywood's subject matter is, even though the people who produce it (such as George Clooney) think they're on the cutting edge:

Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pinup: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.
Modern architecture went through a similar reactionary phase in the 1960s, as its leaders died off as elderly men one after the other during the decade: First Frank Lloyd Wright, then Corbusier, then in 1969 first Gropius, and then Mies. But in their final years, these men, once pioneers, were frequently living off past designs. In 1966, Robert Venturi wrote Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture in which they pointed out that Mies van Der Rohe's architecture was little changed from projects he envisioned in the late 1920s. In other words, what called itself "modern architecture" was based on concepts that were forty years old--or more.

Modern art is going through a similar phase--only its concepts are even older, and much more reactionary. Modern architecture, especially as it advanced beyond its very early days in the 1910s and early twenties, was rarely designed to shock, unlike so much of today's modern art. On Saturday, I wrote:

Leftwing artists specialized in Epater Les Bourgeois for much of the 19th and 20th century to the point where everyone who could possibly be disgusted is now barely able to simulate the aura of the penumbra of amusement.
No doubt, Giuseppe Veneziano, the Italian artist who painted "Oriana Fallaci Beheaded" thought he was making a wild gesture that really epaters those bourgeois! But instead, it's the same old stuff; we've seen it a million times before.

Of course, to paraphrase something Glenn Reynolds wrote about Kanye West recently, if Veneziano had balls, he'd paint a portrait of Mohammed beheaded, instead of Fallaci. (Don't write--I'm being facetious. I don't want to see paintings of anybody beheaded.) But hey, who wants to end up like Theo Van Gogh? Nobody wants to suffer for their art that much, right?

And besides, that would run the risk of actually agreeing with Fallaci. And that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Update: Michelle Malkin has some thoughts as well.

Since 2002, News, Technology and Pop Culture, 24 Hours a Day, Live and in Stereo!

(And every Saturday on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.)

What They're Saying

"Internet hat pundit"--Iowahawk

Twitter Feed
About Me


Support the Site


February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002


Bookmark Me!

Blogroll Me!

Steal This Button!

Syndicate this site (XML)
Podcasts Feed

AddThis Feed Button

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Our Podcasts' Apple iTunes Page

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35

Site design by

tumblr site counter
Copyright © 2002-2008 Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. All Rights Reserved