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2004-10-13 #1

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, 19 years and 226 days ago. Viewed 2,412 times. #1
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Deadly Geniuses and Art

ESR >>discusses how certain geniuses can become detrimental to the very art they produce:
Tom Wolfe argued in From Bauhaus to Our House that the breakdown of the traditional patronage system in the late 19th century had a lot to do with the degenerative changes in modern art. Wolfe never identified deadly genius as a core problem. but his argument readily extends to an explanation of why deadly genius become so much deadlier at that time.

Wealthy aristocratic patrons, had, in general, little use for disruptive brilliance — what they wanted from artists was impressive display objects, status symbols that had to be comprehensible to the patron's peers. Thus, artists learned to stay more or less within traditional forms or starve. Evolution happened, but it was relatively gradual and unsconscious. Geniuses were not permitted to become deadly.

After 1900 all this changed. Wolfe elucidates some of the complex reasons that artists found themselves with more freedom and less security than ever before. In an increasingly bourgeois climate, the cry went up that artistic creation must become autonomous, heeding its own internal imperatives as much as (or more than) the demands of any audience. The breakneck pace of technological change helped reinforce a sense that possibilities were limitless and all rules could be discarded.

I've often felt that art should serve the people it is supposed to speak for, and that haught culture had spiraled out of control of all but the most elitest of the elite (who, for the most part, were really just deluding themselves and each other over the validity of the "art" in question). As a result, you get a self-appointed intelligencia who dictate to the CBC what they should show as canadian culture, ignoring the fact that for most Canadians, culture is Don Cherry during the first intermission on saturday night. You also get such debacles as The Voice Of Fire, which may be brilliant in its own way -- but if the people don't get it, there is something wrong with it, not them.

This Tom Wolfe book From Bauhaus to Our House sounds interesting.

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