The news about the more than $100 million paid for a work by Gustav Klimt serves as a nice counterpoint to the stupidity illustrated by this earlier post. I think it serves especially well to undermine the slander, favored by apologists for the art world's current shameful state, labelling as anti-modernist "reactionaries" all those who aren't willing to pretend to rapture at the sight of pickled sharks, unmade beds, lights going on and off, piles of bricks and even canned faeces.
At the Cheviot Hills home of Maria Altmann, the phone rings and rings. Each time, a machine answers with the jaunty voice of a 90-year-old woman who has had a very good June."Modernist" work or no, even half-educated Nazi thugs knew a beautiful thing when they saw it, and their theft of this painting was carried out a mere 31 years after its creation, illustrating the hallowness of yet another favorite defense of pretentious apologists for talentless nonsense, i.e., that it's all just too new and cutting edge for the general public's taste to have caught up with: if a work of art has aesthetic appeal, the public won't need decades of browbeating by condescending "critics" to take it to heart - just look at Edward Hopper's reception. Conversely, if anything and everything can be "art", what on earth do the rest of us need all these self-styled "artistes" and self-appointed taste-makers for, and why should we subsidize a favored few to play out a role each and every one of us already spend all our moments acting out?
"Hello. This is Maria. I will be out of town for a couple of weeks. My statement on the painting is that it was important to the heirs and to my aunt Adele that the painting be displayed in a museum. We chose a museum that is a bridge between Europe and the United States."
"The painting" is now the costliest artwork known in the world: a sensuous Gustav Klimt portrait of Altmann's aunt that the family peddled for more than $104 million, perhaps $135 million, to the Neue Galerie, a small New York museum founded by cosmetics billionaire Ronald S. Lauder.
The painting "Adele Bloch-Bauer I," which Klimt made in 1907, glitters with gold and signals the arrival of Modernism in Europe, but it's also been touched by some of the 20th century's ugliest history. The canvas is one of six seized by Nazis from Vienna's Bloch-Bauer family in 1938.
PS: A fellow by the name Mick Hartley has some interesting things to say about the present state of the art world, and especially astute is the following statement of his.
It's also worth noting the language that people like Mark Lawson use to defend their position. Those who criticise postmodern art are conservatives, anti-modernists, reactionaries railing against the forces of progress. Somehow (in the Sixties? or back to Dada again?) politics has crept into the equation, and art has been co-opted into the battle against the forces of reaction. So a tired piece of conceptual art has to be defended because of its presumed progressive and liberatory potential, and the defenders can pat themselves on the back as being up-to-date, modern, and on the right side of history.Indeed. The thinking amongst such people seems to be "I am a 'progressive', and therefore must be for 'progress' in all its forms; everything that is new is 'progress' on what came before, which means I am duty bound to pretend to love it, and defend it against all criticism." It's such fallacious reasoning which gets us Grauniadistas defending as "high art" anything which outrages those they've identified as "reactionary", "bourgeois" enemies of "progress", and it's the self-same way of thinking which has them making tortured excuses for frauds like Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Sigmund Freud et. al. "It must be good if the grown ups don't like it" is the slogan of a spoilt brat rather than the mark of a serious mind.