As the economy recedes, and as the political crisis deepens, the USA is a land of apprehension. A long way from the post-war boom. That time witnessed the triumph of American abstract art. Art follows the money. Embedded in millennial thinking is the Van Gogh syndrome and also the less spectacular introvert voice of Paul Cezanne, who lays a claim to the Modernist ‘0ld Master’ status. Both are the artist as a survivor, individual genius, and outcast. Both were autodidacts.
Right now the frenzied turbo charged international art market supported and manipulated by the rich elite, is questioned. It is hope and also fear of many, that it will collapse. Museums, academia, and national arts management are suffering as confidence drains away; the legacy of the avant garde is now suspect. The history of the collapse of Victorian art world (including the USA ) is a stark reminder of how a confident elite art culture can disappear. Art is defined, and the redefined, as the visual narrative of history. Cultural issues and social change are interwoven into the art story.
Courtesy of the President we may see a game changer called Impeachment. Trump does not impress with manners, social graces, taste or cognitive ability. He reinforces class, gender, racial division and ignorance.
Washington is safe as the Nation’s capital, from the ultimate horrors of decline that sank Detroit and threatens Chicago with near junk bond status. Though Washington is paralyzed, what remains is a well-educated citizenry (which does not mean informed), with a high brow inclination to reach out for elegance and decorum. Some say they are stuck in American history.
The visual arts culture is not as portrayed in American exceptionalism or its newer version ‘manifest destiny’. The market is rigged. A left over undercurrent from the CIA hiding behind The Congress for Cultural Freedom.
Autodidact artists, who invented modernism, are still revered but they were European. New York captured the avant garde, while Washington captured the rear guard. Washington follows Congress, it does not innovate. If Washington is the Nation’s theatre, the stage for performance is Congress.
We hope the tie that binds convention to art and political positioning can be loosened.
Volume 32 no 4 March/April 2018 p2