If you want to know what went wrong with contemporary art after the CIA got their hands on Abstract Expressionism, here it is, warts and all. Entitled ‘The Postmodern Manifesto’ it was found found, unpublished, on a desk next to Jacques Derrida’s deathbed, it was also signed by those other self-proclaimed intellectual giants, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucauld. (Courtesy of Brian Sewell),
This collection of arrogant poseurs has been responsible for many of the excesses and excresences we have had to suffer in contemporary art, from the inexorable rise of curators (point 2), such as Hirst and Koons, neither of whom can do their own work, but pay others to do it for them, to all that “self-consciously shallow, stylistically hybrid, ambiguous” drivel as stated in point 10.
If you have the stomach, take a look at the ‘festo below:
1. The art of the past is past. What was true of art yesterday is false today.
2. The Postmodern art of today is defined and determined, not by artists, but by a new generation of
curators, philosophers and intellectuals ignorant of the past and able to ignore it.
3. Postmodernism is a political undertaking, Marxist and Freudian.
4. Postmodernism is a new cultural condition.
5. Postmodernism is democratic and allied to popular culture.
6. Postmodernism denies the possibility of High Art.
7. Postmodernism deconstructs works of High Art to undermine them.
8. Postmodernism is subversive, seditiously resembling the
precedents it mimics.
9. Postmodern art is pastiche, parody, irony, ironic conflict and
10. Postmodern art is self-consciously shallow, stylistically hybrid, ambiguous, provocative and
11. Postmodern art is anti-elitist, but must protect its own elitism.
12. To the Postmodernist every work of art is a text, even if it employs no words and has no title,
to be curatorially interpreted. Art cannot exist before it is interpreted.
13. Postmodernist interpretation depends on coining new words unknown and unknowable to the
masses, on developing a critical jargon of impenetrable profundity, and on a quagmire of theory
with which to reinforce endowed significance. Vive le Néologisme!
What utter contradictory gibberish. It claims to be anti-elitist (point 11), “democratic and allied to popular culture (point 5) and then claims their their “interpretation depends on coining new words unknown and unknowable to the masses, on developing a critical jargon of impenetrable profundity…” (point 13.). Other words for “The masses”, include the insultingly elitist, Marxist phrase, “the proleteriat”, or, as was allegedly used recently, “plebs”. Supercillious and pretentious wankers.
Point 12, like point 2, is an insult to artists and was a blatant attempt by untalented and even art-ignorant pseudo-intellectuals to elbow their way into the art world and become indespensible in the validation process
“Art cannot exist before it is interpreted” may be true, de facto in the context of the current, money-orientated art market structure, but is facile, de jure. They claimed to shy away from making artistic value-judgements,
not by making pronouncemnts, but by ignoring certain artists and styles.
I could go on, but have a look for yourselves at this this outrageously arrogant document and weep for all the talented artists who have been, NOT PILLORIED, as that would requite knowledge and effort on behalf of the VALIDATORS (tarantaraaa), BUT IGNORED.
Vestiges of Post-Modernism, like the Klu klux Klan, still exist in isolated pockets, but fortunalely, overall, it has become a spent and discredited movement. Next… PO-MO’s post-mortem. Unless I find it too boring to bother.