From: Judy Seigel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 04/18/02-12:34:01 AM Z
On Thu, 18 Apr 2002, Halvor wrote:
> Probably stupid question but, with "officially decreed" could you elaborate
Hi Halvor, thought you'd never ask.... The '60s was the time when "art"
began going off the wall... people like Chris Burden shutting himself up
in a locker, Vito Acconci under the floorboards in the gallery being
naughty --suddenly performance, earthworks, installations, were
everywhere, the idea being to abandon, destroy, ignore "the white cube,"
ie, the gallery. (In that atmosphere, Hanna Darboven writing numbers
eternally on paper was practically old master drawing.) A lot of it
really was silly season, but some, like Spiral Jetty, became classics.
Needless to say, there was a lot of complaining that this wasn't ART...and
what WAS art was asked, demanded, explained at panels a lot on into the
70s... There just seemed to be a consensus by folks who were WITH it that
you couldn't define, proscribe, prescribe, or draw an in-out diagram.
And actually you couldn't then, & less, I imagine, now.
Unfortunately that was a period when you couldn't talk about "quality"
either... :( that was called being "judgmental," which was bad. One of the
folks giving the above definition was Gregory Battcock (shortly thereafter
deceased prematurely). I'm not recalling the name of his paperback book
but my recollection is that it said the above a lot better than I just
I'll add that I myself didn't like that definition--- tho damnall i could
do about it, and now it's so accepted it's not even debated... My own
feeling was that we got too much bad "theatre", cornball acting, and bad
"poetry," but nobody put a gun at your head to attend, and the audiences
were delighted with themselves, the performers pleased as punch, too.
In any event, I guess you could modify the definition to, "art is whatever
the consensus in that particular arena accepts as art."
All possible perhaps because the 60s was the time when the artworld began
a rapid expansion -- the MFA arrived, and the only thing a new MFA could
do to earn a living was to teach -- & turn out more MFAs. That was before
the budget cuts -- so many/most did get teaching jobs. Before long, what
had been (in the 1950s) a world of at most 150 artists in NYC (where
everybody knew everybody) was more "artists" graduating every year than
there were in all Renaissance Italy. Which meant that soon there were
enough people to have a LOT of different styles & audiences...Probably
that was how we managed to sneak in "pluralism" past the Formalist (read
Greenbergian) guardians at the gate.
Now of course there are even more artists, more audience, more arenas,
even one, incredibly, for "old process" photography. Even divisions within
that division -- collodion, daguerreotype, platinum, gum, etc...with their
own cast of characters.
I'm always inclined to add something to the definition about "skill" and
"labor," but it doesn't hold up. I have at hand a card with a Bill Traylor
drawing of a man on a horse -- drawn freehand on a torn piece of cardboard
by a man who just sat down one day and did it. Even in photography we have
the child prodigy with the box camera.
Are you ready to try another definition?
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