Post Modern Art and Artistic Elitism

Counterculture Conservative takes a look at a post-modern performance art exhibit, and sees only intellectual elitism:

Shock art doyenne, Marina Abramovic, claims she is “shocked” that people are shocked by her, ah, craft.  Which is odd because the sole purpose is to shock people.  Yet she feigns surprise that it’s, well, shocking!  But what she is really doing is not expressing real surprise, but rather pleasure and delight that people may be shocked.  It’s the highest compliment they can give her.  In fact, if people weren’t shocked, self-flattery would compel Ms. Abramovic to believe they were!  Which I suspect is precisely what she’s doing!  lol.  Personally, I’m not so much shocked as I am affirmed.  She rests my case.

This kind of “performance art” is the death of true art.  According to art historian Roselee Goldberg, “Performance has been a way of appealing directly to a large public, as well as shocking audiences into reassessing their own notions of art and its relation to culture.”   Are you reassessing yet, folks?

To reiterate Ben Shapiro at Big Hollywood, “The truth is that performance art is largely a function of critical theory (one of the awful creations of the Frankfurt School), which suggests that any artistic material that is worth its salt ought to criticize. Hence the production of art which is utterly disgusting and disreputable – at least it doesn’t enforce the capitalist status quo by appealing to the people.  Boiled down to its essence, this is just elitist claptrap.”

My girlfriend is an artist. She went through an art program and has a Fine Arts degree. Part of the problem she has with modern art is this exact same thing – art as an exercise in intellectual superiority. The art scene, as she explains to me, has become increasingly political and self-referential, to the point where the art can only be understood in reference to other cutting-edge artists. In other words, most post-modern art exhibits are nothing more than efforts by self-obsessed intellectual elitists to prove that they are cool enough to hobnob with other self-obsessed intellectual elitists.

It reminds me a lot of academia, actually.

I’ve always felt this way about art: it should display beauty, and people should respond to that beauty. If the exhibit panel explaining the significance of the piece is bigger than the actual piece, or if it takes longer for someone to explain what the piece is trying to accomplish than it does to actually look over the piece, then it’s not art: it’s a political treatise.

Andrew Klavan commented on this same phenomenon not long ago, while critiquing Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglorious Basterds. Post-modern art seems to be much more concerned with shocking the sensibilities of people and then mocking their reaction from your own “enlightened” position than it does in presenting actual artistic substance.

Gregory of Yardale at Moonbattery also comments on this story, and presents his own idea of art:


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  1. #1 by Annoymouse on Mon 05 Sep 2011 - 00:01

    Nice post

  1. The Culture Destroyers: “Performance Art” « Counterculture Con HQ

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