Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shock of the Old: Anti-modernist appointed to Venice Biennale

Vittorio Sgarbi, the celebrity Art critic and politician, has been selected to curate the Italian Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The Art world is appalled and outraged, not at his political track record of changing parties like one flips through pages in the New Yorker to find the cartoons - but because of his consistent support of classical, old master, and new old master Art.

His appointment will finally bring a breath of fresh air into the stagnating Venice Biennale, whose banal repetition of 9th generation elitist conceptualism has grown so boring and mindless that I can think of no better sedative for a sleepless night.

Among his biggest adversaries is Francesco Bonami, this year's regressive curator for the Whitney Biennial, and thus a self-appointed guru of the Art World establishment.

“Unfortunately we deserve Sgarbi,” he says. “Contemp­orary art is to Sgarbi what America is to Bin Laden. Once in a while, Sgarbi, like Bin Laden, rants against his enemy. I have to say that Sgarbi’s joint appointment is very close to a suicidal attack on Italy’s dignity,” Bonami told The Art Newspaper.

This reminds me of a recent exhibition we had with Odd Nerdrum and others in Stockholm. The local critic derided our work as "Nazi-Kunst", claiming that we were attempting to repress free, democratic expression and force our fascist views on them. That's exactly the same kind of reactionary, hypocritical, logically flawed argument that I love to hear from the academic establishment which has been repressing our creative expression for over 100 years. Bonami has one thing right: they are the world dominating behemoth who enacts economic and cultural colonialism over the lesser countries. And we are the revolutionaries/terrorists/freedom fighters breaking their dominance. They, like America, have a vast arsenal of bombs, but we live in tents in the mountains. But the analogy stops there. I think the story of David and Goliath is more accurate to our current situation.

So, why am I happy to hear this outrageous criticism? Why am I not offended? Because we can use this to our advantage! These moments are our opportunity to capitalize on the way the media functions: on sensationalism. The one thing that the post modern academics have that we don't is a cohesive front against us, though they certainly don't have a cohesive philosophy or belief structure. While we are creating master pieces in our studios, they are going to parties, networking, and schmoozing. What we lack is organization. And, now with the internet, we can continue spending our time in the studio making masterpieces as well as network and collaborate.

You may have studied at the New York or Pennsylvania Academies, Waterstreet, Grand Central, or the Angel or the Florence Academies. You may have studied with Nelson Shanks, or Odd Nerdrum, or Steven Assael. You may be a beginner, emerging, or a master. But we share a common vision. Why is it that we, as classicists, as humanists, are more divided than they, though we have much more in common with each other than they do. They don't even have a coherent ideology! Let us stop fighting amongst ourselves and collaborate. I'm not arguing against competition: we can and should compete as this is the path to mastering our work. But it should be in a spirit of brotherhood.

We will never convince them. But that is not the goal. All we must do is convince the people. Let us put our message before the people and let them decide. What both you and I know (and academia fears) is that the people will choose us.


The Grand Wazoo said...

Very nice.
NYAA 2002, Keller pupil

jeff said...

Amazing, this critic called you guys nazi-kunst. So it's OK for them to dictate what is "good art" and not for others to decide what they want to paint and show. What nerve.

How interesting that any realist art is considered to be some kind of threat. Amazing, simply amazing.

Jeff Musser said...

It's good to know that all the empty, hollow b.s the contemporary art world has been shoving down our throats for the past few decades is going through a crisis. This feels like a page out of Donald Kuspit's book "The End of Art" which argues that all this contemporary, anti theme, anti aesthetic bullshit, is slowly grinding to a halt because, surprise, it says nothing about the human condition, and that a new wave of art is upon us, New Old Master Works. Thank you for this article.