Saturday, April 26, 2008

The voice of elitism

Are you better than the average man on the streets? If you think you are, how does this effect your art? I have always thought elitism in art or anything else is a compensation - for what the person is compensating, I leave to your imagination.
In 1957 Mike Wallace interviewed Frank Loyd Wright. Here is a quote that I found very telling.

Wallace: …a pretty fair share of our audience tonight either can’t, or does not want to, understand modern art like the paintings of Picasso or modern music, let’s say by Stravinsky; possibly they don’t even know, don’t even want to or cannot understand you. What do you think of these people who either don’t understand or don’t care?
Wright: I don’t think they matter as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think they’re for me, so why should I be for them?
The complete interview is available here:

1 comment:

New York City said...

Good post Adam.

I think elitism is just yet another expression of the "us and them" mentality that leads to disassociation with our fellow human beings and ultimately lays the groundwork for violence and war. If we define a group of people as the "other", then we don't have to deal with the moral obligations of treating them like human beings.

What elitists(in all their supposed intellectual superiority) don't seem to realize, is that they rely on the "common man" not only for their livelyhood, but ultimately for their status as elite. Especially today in the globalized world, when techonology amplifies the impact of man so that we unwittingly change the balance of world climate patterns. We can travel from one side of the world to the other in a matter of hours. We are interdependent on each other. Everything that every individual does effects everyone else. So, if it is necessary to speak to people of their own selfish interests in order for them to understand, they must know that it is in their individual best interest to do what is in everyone's best interest - in the long run and in the short run.... and what this means for us as artists is that we must at least attempt to speak to everyone. Communication is the key to understanding and knowledge, and one of the artist's most important roles is as the ambassadors of culture. So, I agree... we must fight against elitism - though we value our intellectuals (true intellectuals are not elitists).