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Re: Joseph Beuys,(Actions, Vitrines, Environments) at The Tate Mo...

From: blp
Category: Art
Date: 04 March 2005


Interesting this thing about last century's innovations being no longer innovative. This is a problem endemic in art in general, but conceptual art most of all. Manet's innovations may no longer look innovative, but the paintings still look amazing. Lumps of fat, cans of shit, basket balls in floatation tanks and other deliberately non auratic objects, however, look less so over time and their intention, the little idea that governed their production, something probably to do with being non auratic, has also lost its power to provoke most of us in any way due not just to the familiarity of the objects, but the familiarity of the ideas themselves. The idea in itself that art could be primarily about ideas must have seemed incredible at some point, but it's an idea with an inherently short shelf life, one whose power depends a lot on its initial, pleasurable surprise.

What does that leave us with? A return to craft? It's a pretty dull answer, but look around. It's the one a lot of artists are giving, at least implicitly. Or how about a dive into meatier ideas, ones with more political engagement perhaps? This is a tendency that would seem to develop out of conceptualism, but is also almost diametrically opposed to conceptualism's playfully gnomic purposelessness. It's trite, both as a strategy, and usually in practice. It's insecure and phillistine about art's place in the world. So we're at an impasse, a good place to start work. The solutions aren't simply at one end of a pole or another and that's the point. And by the way, aesthetics never really went away - except in the bad art where it was never present anyway.

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