Random Art Opinions

Robert Hughes, 1938 - 2012

1. OK, if granted the power to eliminate one movement in painting I would get rid of pointillism, no question. No "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," no problem.

2. Painting is dead the same way a Sonny Rollins tenor sax improvisation is dead: in other words, not. What painting isn't, is new. There are no more formal innovations in painting, but the challenge and richness of painting will endure.

3. The weakness of video and computer art is exactly the strength of painting. Screen-based art lacks texture and sensuality.

4. The pressure of newness in art comes not so much from collectors but from the foundations and funders who feel their mission is to foster aesthetic progress. As they sift through proposals, funders are drawn to high-concept projects that impress as much or more for their intellectual rationalizations than for the power of the completed works themselves.

5. Two great art series available on video: Robert Hughes's The Shock of the New, produced by the BBC in 1980; and art21, a six season series produced by PBS from 2001 through 2012. They couldn't be more unalike. The Hughes series is a tour de force of one critic's blunt but informed opinions about 20th century art, while art21 is presented almost entirely in the words of contemporary artists themselves. It's a trip to ponder the improvement in production values that occurred in the short time between the two series.


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  2. Bravo! Number 4 strikes me as particularly cogent. Yale is the worst offender, in my opinion, as their graduates step off the podium, diploma in hand, straight into the pipeline of galleries and museums put into place to inflate Yale's "brand" of art.

  3. Deborah, nice to see you back! I am humbled, and will make 'cogent' my Word of the Day next Tuesday. MB


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