Monday, February 16, 2004
Lileks on Modern Art

James Lileks, in his column in the Star Tribune, muses on a modern art exhibit:
    Headline in last week's paper: "Walker's attendance falls by 30%; Official blames 9/11 for decline in tourism."

    I have a theory, and I'll admit it might be controversial:
    It's possible that no one wanted to see the exhibits."
and offers his grand unified theory:
    Well, you say, you just don't like modern art. Not true. I hate modern art. No, that's not right, either. I may be a philistine, but I am a learned one. I have a complex and nuanced response to modern art, be it the rigors of De Stijl, the furious assertions of Abstract Expressionism, the romantic angularity of Lionel Feininger, the anguished gashes of Clifford Still, the whimsical recontextualizations of Lichtenstein and other Pop Art painters; I understand the challenges that Action Painting made to the outmoded bourgeoise notions nurtured in the dusty attics of the beaux-arts mind-set, and I appreciate the connection between surrealism and post World War I disenchantment with rationality, why Dali was a bit of a poser, why Klee makes us nervous, why Bacon horrifies, and Beckmann can best be understood in the climate of Weimar. All this I know. And my opinion is simple: Eh. If it's not ugly, it's banal. If it's not banal, it's pretentious. If it's not either, it's pointless. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's great. (Like Feininger.) But in general:

If you're not cyber-stalking Lileks' writings and reading the Back Fence (his column in the Star Tribune and his weekly Newhouse News syndicated column, you're pathetic. I mean, you're missing out on quality writing. I didn't say pathetic.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."