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We Know What We Like

Political Commentary,Popular Culture,Social Commentary
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Lileks has a meditation on modern art:

It's not the humanism that ruined art, it was humanism that divorced itself from the possibility of transcendence. Which would be bad enough if it hadn't decided to splash around in the gutters as well.

Ah, but why was it influential? It recontextualized the commonplace and made us see it as Art, a process that continues to this day every time you see a book with a title like "The Art of Bread" or "The Art of Toad Sexing" or whatever else has to be elevated to the status of marble sculpture to make the user feel they're living a rarified life. It played a joke on the Stuffy Academics, which is something the adolescent temperament never tires of doing. This is not encouraged any more, since the Academics are on the side of Truth and Modernity, however defined today. Although I once knew an architecture student who took perverse and boundless glee in shocking his teacher by putting a pointy roof on the house each student had to design. A pointed roof. In other words, a useful roof, a functional roof that didn't collect rain water. Everyone else had a flat roof, of course. Machine for Living and all that. This was just around the time Post-Modernism made it okay to quote history, as long as everyone saw you wink, or could understand that your overscaled grotesque excretions were meant ironically.

An instructor might not know what to make of a house with a point roof, but if you called it "House In The Time of Reagan" he'd understand.

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cthulhu wrote:

As is often the case, Tom Wolfe had a bead on this over thirty years ago - check out The Painted Word and From Bauhaus to Our House. Wolfe has consistently been THE best commentator on the uniquely American society and culture of the last 50 years, and he definitely brings the right stuff to bear on art and architecture in these two books.

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