Sunday, August 16, 2015

A credible argument about Art?

People Love Art Museums — But Has The Art Itself Become Irrelevant? : NPR

As this guy argues about the success of "art museums":

They offer a titillating experience. Lively interaction with the people
around you, well-dressed people — it's exciting. But what has happened
is the art museum used to offer objects, works of art, the finest that
we have. And it's gone from offering objects to offering an experience.

There's the critical moment: 1978. I was in college at the time. It
was the King Tut exhibit at the Met: 1.8 million people lined up to see
that show. And that got the attention of the administrators — not just
of the Met but the trustees of every museum in the country.

This hadn't happened before. Museums tended to be doudy places run by
superannuated financiers who every year would write a personal check to
cover the deficit. They suddenly realized that, well, "I don't have to
cover the deficit if you can produce more of these blockbuster

I actually talk about this in the piece. It was almost 20 years to the day, 20 years after The Treasures of Tutankhamun, the Guggenheim did The Art of the Motorcycle.
And it was equally thrilling, equally successful, but it tells us that
our society can no longer distinguish — effectively distinguish —
between a Harley-Davidson Sportster and a 3,000-year-old golden mask
from Egyptian New Kingdom, can't make a qualitative judgment about
intrinsic value.

So, the museum seemed to be more and more successful, but there's been a little bit of a bait-and-switch that's going on behind the doors of many.
The argument is not inconsistent with what I wrote about modern art and my reaction to it in 2009.  (The post also remains the only time I have posted a photo of myself on the blog.)

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