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'Bad' Painting and the work of Anton Henning

'Bad' Painting and the work of Anton Henning



This lecture users the theme of taste to explore the subject of postmodernism, building to a consideration of 'Bad' Painting and the work of German artist Anton Henning. By James Clegg

This lecture users the theme of taste to explore the subject of postmodernism, building to a consideration of 'Bad' Painting and the work of German artist Anton Henning. By James Clegg



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  • Today, the aim is to traverse Modern and contemporary art using the vehicle, or theme, of taste. And my hope is that this approach will prove to be very provocative and intimate and lead us to understand the complex phenomenon of postmodernism in a very palpable kind of way. I say ‘provocative and intimate’ here because as [intro] La Rouchefout said “Our pride is more offended by attacks on our tastes than on our opinions”. To have you opinions dashed about a certain subject perhaps seems more external, more about a set of circumstances out their about which you held the opinion. But when someone attacks your taste they assault the status everything from you sense of dress to the way you decorate your home, to the way you have learnt to speak.
  • Taste is also a good way in to postmodernism because we can really consider taste without thinking about consumerism and the rise of popular culture. Certain ideas of taste put forward by ‘Modern’ thinkers were confidently based upon the clear separation of ‘High Culture’ and ‘popular culture’, or to use more specialist language, between ‘avant-garde culture’ and ‘kitsch’. But society has changed and now more and more people exercise taste, and though it could and should still be argued that certain groups are still privileged and still effectively have more power to dictate what is deemed good or bad, art has reflected an increasing convergence between an historically elite culture and ‘mass culture’. Andreas Hussein in his book “After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture and postmodernism” insisted that understanding the relationship of High/Low culture was important that grasp the significant changes occuring since the 1960s.
  • There is much more to taste than fashion or street credibility. In fact, historically, taste has been closely linked to virtue. Being tasteful is taken to be a sign of your inner quality and the subject has often – and still can be – treated with a quite of piety. One of the most extreme examples of this attitude is captured in theories of the Austro-Hungarian architect Adolf Loos, writing at the beginning of the last century. For Loos, decoration is synonymous with moral deparvity; although it might be ok for ‘uncivilized’ papuan peoples to decorate everything, he argued, for the Westerner it is an egregious act of vulgarity akin to acting like a child or applying graffitti to a toilet.Although Loos might seem so extreme, he was part of the modernist movement in art and design which still exerts a strong influence today.
  • The clean and clear interiors of Le Corbusier, the crisp metal work of Marianne Brandt working at the Bauhaus, the arts & crafts movement, defined a particular aesthetic sensibility that pervades culture at lots of different levels, from Ikea and Grand designs to shows like the Ideal home show.
  • In fine art, the idea of Beauty has been historically connected to truth. Of course, you have to be in possession of a faultless taste for things to appreciate beauty, a person of outstanding ‘cultivation and breed’. Beauty in academic art, perhaps most closely linked to this idea of truth, was connected to classical themes of balance and harmony. Artists like Nicholas Poussin, studies by students attending the academies developing in most cities across Europe from the mid 18th Century, would learn to draw from casts and carefully design so that it possessed a certain correctness. Academies you might say, were an attempt to impose standards on taste, standards that Modern artists, like the impressionists, would be seen to resist and overturn.
  • At a very general – perhaps slightly wishy washy level – you might argue that for the most part of recorded history people have exhibited taste. But others, such as GilloDorfles, who wrote a famous anthology on Kitsch – art deems not to have any artistic merit, that taste is a modern phenomenon. This is because, he argues, art was previously in the service of religion. And in such service it had the status of facilitating worship, not of being judged for is visual merits. It is with Industrialization he thinks bad taste, and conversely, good taste, started to emerge. Postmodernism tends to be discussed in relation to consumerism rather than industry, but Dorfles description of what he means by industry, sound very postmodern. He sees the new industries as creating new platforms for the imagination, for capturing the imagination. With new media, such a photography and film he writes of a lask of “an ‘authentic’ lived experience” – something postmodern philosophers like Jean Baudrillard would, some years later, discuss. “The sight of reproduced images – via photography, cinema, television and magazines – is no longer capable of transmitting a truly lived experience.” But what is this experience?
  • Another interesting thing about taste, is it’s openess as a concept. Although we will obviously be focusing upon art today, taste gives us opportunity to discuss and draw upon all aspects of our experience and think carefully about the choices we as individuals make, regarding the books we read, the type of food we eat... (and hence the voting cards). And my hope is that today's course will give you more confidence to develop and stand by your own tastes in order to question and contest what is good and bad. And of course, the whole point of ‘bad painting’, as you will see, is to do just that – to ask questions. To say, wait a minute, but aren’t the accepted notions of good taste actually highly restrictive? Isn’t there scope to use to take interest in other things: more complex subject matter, more ambiguous painting style.Now I’m sure that for everyone, this questioning is already something you do. I’m sure you’ve all felt pissed off at some point by someone’s sense of taste. Who’s been annoyed by the omission of a favourite film from a top ten listing?
  • What is good taste.
  • Rene Ricard, “Artists have a responsibility to their work to raise it above the vernacular. Perhaps it is the critic's job to sort out from the melee of popular style the individuals who define the style, who perhaps inaugurated it”.
  • Rene Ricard, “Artists have a responsibility to their work to raise it above the vernacular. Perhaps it is the critic's job to sort out from the melee of popular style the individuals who define the style, who perhaps inaugurated it”.
  • Rene Ricard, “Artists have a responsibility to their work to raise it above the vernacular. Perhaps it is the critic's job to sort out from the melee of popular style the individuals who define the style, who perhaps inaugurated it”.
  • Rene Ricard, “Artists have a responsibility to their work to raise it above the vernacular. Perhaps it is the critic's job to sort out from the melee of popular style the individuals who define the style, who perhaps inaugurated it”.
  • “What emerges [in Bourdieu’s work] is a field analysis of the way artists, writers, curators and gallery owners are mutually engaged in a symbiotic practice, the totality of which is ‘art’. The state – politicians, ministers, museums and national galleries – is never far away”. Micheal Grenfell & Cheryl Hardy, Art Rules.
  • Another example of the kind of data gathered in ‘Distinction’ are a number of table in which people were asked, Given the following subjects, is a photographer more likely to produce a beautiful, interesting, meaningless or ugly photo”. On the subject of Sunset over Sea, 19.5% of people with high level qualifications thought it would be meaningless, compared to 1 % of those with no qualification. Conversely on the subject of Bark of a Tree, 8.5% of those with high qualifications thought it would be meaningless, compared to 46.5 % of those with none.
  • “Whereas the ideology of charisma regards taste in legitimate culture as a gift of nature, scientific observation shows that cultural needs are the product of upbringing and education.”
  • A satirical review from the time of the first exhibition of the works of this group reveals how difficult people found it to accept this new visual language. Except from Louis Leroy’s satirical take on the work of the Independent artists:Bertin's pupil, believing that I was being ironical, contented himself with shrugging his shoulders, not taking the trouble to answer. Then, very quietly, with my most naive air, I led him before the Ploughed Field of M. Pissarro. At the sight of this astounding landscape, the good man thought that the lenses of his spectacles were dirty. He wiped them carefully and replaced them on his nose."By Michalon!" he cried. "What on earth is that?""You see ... a hoarfrost on deeply ploughed furrows.""Those furrows? That frost? But they are palette-scrapings placed uniformly on a dirty canvas. It has neither head nor tail, top nor bottom, front nor back.""Perhaps ... but the impression is there.""Well, it's a funny impression!How is this not academic? (and therefore in many ways quite difficult for viewers at that time to understand)Landscape (requires less intelligent manipulation – not like staging a scene)Loose brushstrokes (in the academies lines were associated with reason, colour with sensuous, emotional (female) attributes.Concentration on the surface of the canvas
  • So far I’ve skimmed over the subtitle of Bourdieu’s book, “A social critique of the judgement of taste”. This directly references a work by the philopher Emanuel Kant, ‘Critique of Judgement’ (1790). Kant came at a point when the Enlightenment had been active for a century, but in that time aesthetics, that is the study of beauty had hardly been considered. Reason was the primary concern for philosophers as it could produce tangible things. Beauty however, was thought to be purely related to sensations and therefore irrational, fleeting, subjective. Kant argued that even though this may be the case, there was something objective about the way we might properly perceive beauty that was important. Sensations, he argued, animate parts of our mind or soul that precede our ideas of the world. In looking at a Rothko, for example, you might argue that you feel the sensation of something that you only afterwards – using your imagination – call ‘hot’ or ‘medative’. The words come only later. But for Kant, an appreciation of Beauty was more complex than even this.
  • In order to appreciate Beauty, he argued, it’s not enough just to experience sensations. Rather, you have to get in to a state by which your imagination directly connects those sensations to your understanding. In this way before the concepts ‘hot’ or ‘meditative’ come to mind you understand the sensation. You become conscious without concepts (and there is something akin to Eastern philosophy here). But the irony is however, that Kant effectively tried to reason and write in concepts, and categorise and prescribe, exactly how this ‘appreciation’ was to happen. And this, as you might be guessing, can become dogmatic. And my choice of Rothko here is no accident, because Kant’s conception of aesthetics lends itself perfectly to abstract painting, where subject matter is erased to allow you to be aware purely of your own conscious observance of a piece. And when you start to think through the implication of Kant’s arguments, a whole host of other behaviours and dispositions are made legitimate by his aesthetics. You can’t get caught up in the stories contained in a picture, you can’t run through a gallery, or get distracted by the decor of the gallery and of course, returning to Bourdieu, you can’t do any of this unless you’ve been trained to.
  • Keeping in mind our description of aesthetics, and basically the kind of disposition it hinted at, and Greenberg’s understanding of art, it probably become obvious how the White Cube came in to being. To service an art that was, according to such and influential critic as Greenberg, in a place in cultural ascendency, namely American, and specifically New York.“The Museum interior was turned into antiseptic, laboratory-like spaces – enclosed, isolated, artificially illuminated and apparently neutral environments in which viewers could study works of art displayed as so many isolated specimens” (Wallach 1992 [1991], p. 282)
  • Later, the shareholders of Moma were also implicated in the War in Vietnam, which in the politically charged environment of 1960s America led to protests from political activists and artists, who were political activists.What I’m trying to give you a glimpse of here is how, in fact, the inequality exposed by Bourdieu, was in effect being explosed and critiqued in many other ways at that time. By the 60s the type of art Greenberg had supported was seeming conventional, and worse yet, part of the establishment, an outgrowth of a discriminatory type of archaic, aristocratic attitude that no longer had a place in the world.
  • If Kant’s ideas underlie Modernism, via thinkers like Greenberg, then if we accept that they are off there time – as Bourdieu suggests we do – when there was a particular social configuration then when that configuration changes significantly, those ideas will breakdown. By the 60s artists were making installations, performance art, video art, body art... Things had opened up immensely. After Kant, the French Revolution. The modern period in fact was defined by change, and Marx predicted that industrialisation would overturn old social orders. Was it that by the 60s the old hierarchy of high and low was breaking down? Was art and culture becoming more democratic? Or, did society just reshuffle and make new sense of itself and a different kind of people take control?
  • Kitsch is thought to have its root in Romanticism, which elevated emotion to an almost spiritual level and, as in this work, focused upon the individual. This work shows the private experiences of someone reading books and the idea of personal enlightenment is hinted at by the light cast upon the wall.
  • GilloDorfles “The sight of reproduced images – via photography, cinema, television and magazines – is no longer capable of transmitting a truly lived experience.” But what is this experience? Well now, after our journey, perhaps we can say that ‘Truly lived experience’ sounds a bit aesthetic. Perhaps what was lost with tv etc. was not lost because those media fabricate false ideas, but because they propagate ideas, they bring art and culture to the masses.
  • Consumerism replaces industrialism.
  • Pop art fulfils all Greenberg’s criteria for Kitch. It is the product of collecting, of sourcing reproductions. Like dada and surrealism – though without the underlying politics – it colleagues worlds together meaning that instead of getting a unified asthetic kind of experience, your get a kind of kaleidoscope of different types of information. And what code do you need to decode it, well... Exactly the same as you do to decode popular culture, the newspapers, tvs and magazines that it comes from. For conservatives kitsch is a symtom of a move towards some pathological state, a neurosis, an evil.
  • This is about culture
  • Kosuth’sArt After Philosophy (1969) was on of the most puritanical attempt to define conceptual art. For him, art is a tautology – i.e. It states ‘I am a work of art’. This shows his proximity to the thinking of various minimalists, particularly Donald Judd who said “It’s art if I say it is”. He argues that there is no conceptual reason that art has to be tied to aesthetics. Also, One and Three Chairs (1965).Kosuth is very critical of formalist criticism and argues that it rest solely upon taste, while reducing the work of art to mere decoration. To make conventional forms of art, i.e. Painting of sculpture, is to accept the ‘nature of art’ (Kosuth [1969] 1991, p.18) “The value of particular artists after Duchamp can be weighed according to how much they questioned the nature of art” (Ibid.). For this reason he argues that “Actual works of art are little more than historical curiosities.” p.19There is something quite dogmatic about Kosuth’s essay however, and it is very reliant upon the proximity of meaning and written language. The visual aspect of the art is being seen as secondary.“The ‘purest’ definition of conceptual art would be that it is inquiry into the foundations of the concept ‘art’, as it has come to mean.” p.26There is also a sense here that the material aspects of the reality of conceptual art are being denied.Exhibition opens on 7 August at Talbot Rice gallery.The same year Robert Barry created his closed exhibition piece.
  • For our discussion, conceptual art enters as a kind of antithesis to aesthetics. This is an art not defined by styles – or a least it wasn’t thought of that way at the time. Also, if good taste and bad taste are wound up with consumable products, then here is an idea for an immaterial art. Something that exists in the mind.
  • We will return to Conceptual Art shortly. Let’s just say for now, that in this milieu people were starting to question the legitimacy of painting at all. Had all painting, figurative or not become decadent? For Marcia Tucker, who organised the exhibition ‘Bad Painting’ in 1978 in the New Museum in New York, the idea of painting was still full of possibilities, but it had to free itself from certain constraints in order to realise them. Working the art scene for some time, Tucker had met a bunch of painters who seemed to break all the rules of good taste and deal with subject matter in a way that was very unfashionable at the time. It was figurative, it dealt with personal subject matter – painters painting their children – for example, or pets, and it was done in an awkward style. Tucker’s friends were somewhat distressed when she announced her idea of exhibiting these artists works, but she felt it was wholley justified.

'Bad' Painting and the work of Anton Henning 'Bad' Painting and the work of Anton Henning Presentation Transcript

  • postModernism in Art:
    Bad Painting and the work of Anton Henning
  • Getting to know you...
    A personal example of good or bad painting?
    What do you think ‘postmodernism’ is?
    What’s your favourite food?
  • “The Papuan tattoos his skin, his boat, his oar, in short, everything that is within his reach. He is no criminal. The modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons where eighty percent of the inmates bear tattoos. Those who are tattooed but are not imprisoned are latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If a tattooed person dies at liberty, it is only that he died a few years before he committed a murder.”
    “The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from objects of daily use.”
    Adolf Loos (1908) [Ornament and Crime]
  • Le Corbusier (1928-31) Villa Savoye, Interior, at Poissey, France.
  • ‘"Beauty is truth, truth beauty" - That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know’
    Keats (1820) Ode on a Grecian Urn
    Nicholas Poussin (1638-40)
    The Arcadian Shepherds
  • Have people always had good or bad taste?
  • Casablanca
    There Will Be Blood
    The Shining
    Sunset Boulevard
    Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
    The Godfather
  • Peter Davies (1997) The Hot One Hundred
  • Today
    Part 1: Developing a taste for distinction...
    We will begin by finding out what type of paintings you like and dislike and start to explore the reasons why. To give discussions a critical backdrop we will conclude by looking at the work of Pierre Bourdieu and his most influential study, Distinction.
    9:00 – 11:00, Seminar and discussion
  • Today
    Part 2: Postmodernism and ‘bad painting’
    Using the idea of taste we will think about the emergence of marginalised groups, the growth of consumerism and also the profound changes to the way we might understand or practice painting after Conceptual Art. Bad Painting might be Good Painting after all?
    11:30 – 13:30, Lecture and seminar
  • Today
    Part 3: The art of Anton Henning
    Visiting Talbot Rice Gallery will allow us to put what we have learnt in to practice. We take time to explore Interieur No. 495 and develop interpretations of it.
    15:00 – 17:00, Gallery visit, activities and discussion.
  • Voting Cards ready
    Good Painting
    Bad Painting
  • Anonymous Barrack Obama (c. 2010)
  • Jean-Michel BasquiatSelf-Portrait as a Heel, Part Two (1982)
    Basquiat (1960-88) was seen by some, such as critic Rene Racard, to be a prodigal son of the New York streets bringing together the presentness of graffiti and a consciousness of art history. He befriended Andy Warhol and became very successful.
    Some critics at the time dismissed his work because they felt it naively assumed a ‘primitive’ black vernacular.
    More recent observations by Art Historians like Alison Pearlman or Black activists such as Bell Hooks, read greater depth in his art and see it, respectively, as a carefully conceived, postmodern response to his position in the American art market, and as an emotional deposit of feelings of repression.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • CraigieAitchisonLily Still Life (1974)
    Exhibited at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2010, CragieAitchison (1926-2009) has an adoring following.
    Scottish Art Historian Bill Hare made comparisons of Aitchison’s work to Van Gogh, Gauguin and Mattisse and wrote, “The central dialectic of modernist painting – continually hovering between the painted surface and the pictorial space, between the mimetic image and the decorative pattern... Achieves a perfect synthesis of the real and the ideal on the surface of CragieAitchison’s painting”.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • George Grosz The Engineer Heartfeld(1920)
    The Dada art movement was an intentional ‘irrational’ reaction against the social structures that had led to the (‘irrational’) mechanised killing of millions. In Berlin, where Grosz and his fiend John Heartfield – pictered - worked, the situation was particularly heated and Dada took on a highly political role.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Wolf Howard Mrs Chippy(2001)
    “People have said to me, ‘What’s the point in painting a cat? My five-year-old daughter could do that.’ Yes, she could, but would it be a cat that had the look in its eyes that conveyed to you that it was about to be shot? That’s the fate that befell Mrs Chippy during one of the greatest survival adventures ever – Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to the Antartic in 1914 on the ship Endurance – shown in the background of the painting, stuck in the ice, as the crew drag the small open boat which later accomplished an 850 mile rescue journey through sixty-foot waves. That’s the difference between my cat and a five-year-old’s. I also paint cats where there is no difference”
    Wolf Howard, artists statement
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Rosemarie TrockelVorstudie (Preliminary Study) (1989)
    Exhibited at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2011.
    Considered one of the leading figures of her generation, building upon and simultaneously criticising the work of artists like Joseph Beuys.
    Develops a feminist critique of authority within her work, questioning the construction of identity.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d’Avignon(1907)
    Considered to be a seminal work of Modern Art and considered by some to be the first Cubist work.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Vladimir TretchikoffChinese Girl (1952)
    Highly popular as a print during the 1950s and 1960s.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Glenn BrownJesus: The Living Dead (after Adolf Schaller)(1907)
    Glenn Brown was nominated for the turner prize in 2000.
    He meticulously copies the works of other artists borrowing from established, recognised artists like Frank Auerbach and also popular images by artists such as Adolf Schaller, who has devoted his career to painting the universe.
    “The simple act of painting has been turned into a conceptual minefield. Visual reality is being questioned by an artist who, we soon find out, is enough of a science-fiction buff to know that all visual realities are questionable. And the fact that Auerbach’s original seems so full of raw and mannish emotion makes Brown’s pseudo-scientific re-creation of it very spooky.” WaldemarJanuszczak (2009) Glenn Brown – the thinking mans artist. Independent.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Philip Guston The Mirror (1956)
    In the 1950s, Canadian artist Philip Guston had successfully moved from political muralism to the then dominant mode of painting, Abstract Expressionism. He was considered to have a special talent.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Philip Guston Flatlands (1970)
    In 1970 Guston made a radical departure from Abstract Expressionism because he felt it was wrong to ignore the social and political problems of the time. His new figurative work now referenced criminality, the Ku Klux Klan and Rochard Nixon, among other things, and was done in a crude cartoon style.
    Conservative art critic Hilton Kramer ridiculed Guston for being ‘childlike’, an ‘urban primitive’.
    Guston: “I got sick and tired of all that Purity! I wanted to tell stories… I felt like a movie director. Like opening a pandoras box, all those images came out.” “So when the 1960s came along I was feeling split, schizophrenic. The war, what was happening to America, the brutality of the world. What kind of man am I sitting at home, reading magazines, going in to a frustration about everything – and then going in to the studio to adjust a red to blue”
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Sam ToftDoris Earwigging
    Sam Toft, working for The Art Group, has sold over 2 Million prints worldwide.
    Original works fetch up to £6000.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • Jack Vettriano
    Scotland’s wealthiest painter, Vettriano makes over £500,000 per year from prints alone.
    Vettriano’s prints outsell prints of Picasso.
    Originals can fetch up to £250,000.
    Does this information confirm or challenge your vote?
  • What gives us certain taste?
  • Bourdieu and “Distinction”
    Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1989) [1970] is still considered the most comprehensive survey of taste.
    Bourdieu’s work challenges the notion that taste is innate, in other words he argues that taste is determined by economic and social causes rather than being something you’ve either got or haven’t got.
    What makes Distinction so important however, is that it showed how taste is implicated in segregation and social hierarchys.
  • Bourdieu’s previous analysis of photography
  • Bourdieu and “Distinction”
    Gathering evidence from years of dedicated study, Distinction showed that taste was closely linked to people’s class backgound. Bourdieu sought to find out peoples response to a work considered to be of high artistic merit, such Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC) by Bach compared to an example of ‘popular’ music, Strauss II and other examples. 33% of Higher Education Teachers preferred WTC, while none preferred Blue Danube. While 50.5% of manual workers preferred Blue Danube an none WTC.
  • Bourdieu and “Distinction”
    Bourdieu made a number of observations based upon this data, one of the most important being that taste in culture resemembled taste in food: Those with least capital buy essential items, items that are going to fill them up, while those with most capital can afford items that have symbolic status, but don’t necessarily have significant nutitional value.
  • Bourdieu and “Distinction”
    In art this principle related to the kind of pleasure people would take from art. Popular culture was consumed by people who enjoyed it, who would watch a film for its emotional story line and narrative for example, while ‘High Culture’ was consumed in a much more dispassionate fashion.
    For Bourdieu this signalled that those in power, the Bourgeois, indulged in art that was separated from social realities, that ‘High Art’s’ claim to aesthetic distance was in denial of the everyday reality and the inequality of the system under which it was produced.
  • Habitus
    “The mechanism by which tastes are cultivated and exercised. The Habitus is the means by which people come to develop systems of likes and dislikes, and also the set of principles and procedures which people use in their relations with objects and people. In short it is the set of dispositions, for use in practice, that orientates individuals in their relations with people and objects in the shared world.”
    Iain Woodward (2007) Understanding Material Culture
  • How does this make you reflect upon your own sense of taste?
  • postModernism in Art:
    Bad Painting and the work of Anton Henning
  • How is Bourdieu postmodern?
    Modernism was underwritten by a belief in pure, authentic, autonomous values(As we shall see taste was thought of in such terms).In Bourdieu’s work, as reflected in postmodern thought generally, ‘natural’ values are replaced by ‘cultural codes’.
    Language –the system that allows us to read and interpret information – is distributed, much like wealth, across society. As with money some people are in possession of the ‘cultural compentences’ to freely engage art, to decode it. Bourdieurefered to this as cultural capital.
  • “A beholder who lacks the specific code feels lost on a chaos of sounds and rhythms, colours and lines, without rhyme or reason. Not having learnt to adopt the adequate disposition, he stops at what [Art Historian] Erwin Panofsky calls the ‘sensible properties’, perceiving a skin as downy or lace-work as delicate, or at the emotional resonances of these properties, referring to ‘austere’ colours or a ‘joyful melody’.”
    Bourdieu (1989) p.2
  • Paradigms and change
    Camille Pissarro (1973) White Frost
  • Aesthetics and the growth of modern art
  • Clement Greenberg, Avant-Garde and Kitch
    “Retiring from public altogether, the avant-garde poet or artist sought to maintain the high level of his art by both narrowing and raising it to the expression of an absolute in which all relativities and contradictions would either be resolved or beside the point... ‘Art for Art’s’ sake and ‘pure poetry’ appear, and subject matter or content becomes something to be avoided like a plague.” (Greenberg 1992, p.5)
  • Clement Greenberg: views on taste.
    “Kitsch, using for raw material the debased and academicized simulacra of genuine culture, welcomes and cultivates ... Insensitivity. Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations.. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times [...] Formal culture has always belonged to the [powerful and cultivated]; while the [great mass of the exploited and poor] have had to content themselves with folk or rudimentary culture, or kitsch.” (Ibid, p. 10)
  • More on the avant-garde
    “Advance or decline – these are the only alternatives. Impasse, in which there is neither advance nor decline, only uncertainty, is unimaginable in the logic of decadence. Worse yet if the decline of an art – representational painting, for example – seems to go on forever, because those eager to put it out of its misery, to hasten its death throes with their contempt and indifference, or at least teach it the agony it should feel, find they have no effect on it: it continues to be in good cheer as it goes about its creative business.”
    Donald Kuspit, The Dialectic of Decadence
  • Greenberg’s Modernist assumptions
    There is something universal about beauty.
    Artworks progress – through self-criticism – towards a particular point (flatness).
    Though direct (aesthetic) engagement with a work of art you can evaluate it’s success
  • The white cube
    Museum of Modern Art Building [centre] (2004).
    Designed by Philip L. Goodwin and Edward D. Stone in 1939
    Tate Liverpool (2006)
  • Alfred Barr (1936)
  • Elite Institutions
    Both Moma and the Abstract Expressionism with which it became synonymous seemed to be exclusive, not just to working classes, but from women and ethnic minorities too.
  • Question after Bourdieu: Could Kant only imagine there to be a way of getting at a true, autonomous, universal beauty only because at that time in history ( mid to late18th Century) because the few ruling classes with the education to pass judgement were in a position of secure control and consensus?
    no such thing as transhistoric essence
  • kitsch
    Georg Friedrich Kersting (1814) Man reading at lamplight
  • How would you go about creating a kitsch painting?
  • Identifiying Kitsch, according to Thomas Kulka
    Kitsch depicts objects or themes that are highly charged with stock emotions.
    The objects or themes depicted by kitsch are instantly and effortlessly identifiable.
    Kitsch does not substantially enrich our associations relating to the depicted objects or themes.
  • Consumerism
    Kitsch and Swell store, Montreal
  • Nixon/ Khrushchev ‘Kitchen Debate’ (1959)
  • Richard Hamilton (1956) Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?
  • Pop art (and the working class?)
    Peter Blake (1961) Self-Portrait With Badges
  • Conceptual art (and the educated class?)
    Joseph Kosuth (1967) Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (1967)
  • Conceptual art (and the educated class?)
    Joseph Kosuth (1967) Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) (1967)
  • Conceptual art (and the educated class?)
    Art & Language (1972) Index 01, Documenta 5, Kassel
  • ‘Bad’ Painting
    James Albertson , retrospective at CCA Sacramento
  • ‘Bad’ Painting
    “This... Is the ironic nature of the title, ‘bad’ painting, which ... Is really ‘good’ painting. It is figurative work that defies, either deliberately or by virtue of disinterest, the classic canons of good taste, draftsmanship, acceptable sources material, rendering, or illusionistic representation. In other words, this is work that avoids the conventions of high art, either in terms of traditional art history or very recent taste of fashion.”
    Tucker in the Bad Painting Catalogue
  • ‘Bad’ Painting
    “The notion of progress usually associated with avant-garde ideas is in question here, given the openly nostalgic, figurative and art-historical character of the work.”
    Tucker in the Bad Painting Catalogue
  • Conceptual arts’ legacy: anti-aesthetic
    ““... Postmodernism is not pluralism – the quixotic notion that all positions in culture and politics are now open and equal. This apocalyptic belief that anything goes, that the ‘end of ideology’ is here, is simply the inverse of the fatalistic belief that nothing works, that we live under a ‘total system’ without the hope of redress...” Hal Foster, 1985
  • Conceptual arts’ legacy: anti-aesthetic
    “In opposition... a resistant position is concerned with a critical deconstruction of tradition, not an instrumental pastiche of pop – or pseudo - historical forms, with a critique of origins, not a return to them. In short, it seeks to question rather than exploit cultural codes, to explore rather than conceal social political affiliations.” Hal Foster, 1985
  • Bad Painting?
    Davi d Salle (1988) Three inches within your heart
  • Bad Painting?
    Martin Kippenberger (1996) Unititled
  • Bad Painting?
    Anton Henning(2010) Pin-up No. 94