Traditionalist Claims That Modern Art Could Just as Well Be Replaced by a ‘Paint-Throwing Chimp’
Artists are defensive these days because in May the House passed an amendment to a bill eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. Colleagues, especially those who have received N.E.A. grants, will loathe me for saying this, but just this once I’m sympathetic with the anti-intellectual Republicans behind this amendment. Why? The bill incited a national conversation about a subject that has troubled me for decades: the government — disproportionately — supports art that I do not like.
Actually, just about nobody likes modern art. All those soup cans—what’s that all about? The stuff they have in museums nowadays, my 4-year-old could do better than that. Two-thirds of so-called modern artists are drunk and two-thirds are frauds. And, no, I didn’t get my math wrong—there’s just a lot of overlap among these categories!
It’s an open secret in my discipline: in terms of art that I like (the field’s benchmark for what counts as art), my colleagues have failed spectacularly and wasted colossal amounts of time and money. The most obvious example may be artists’ insistence, during the cold war, that Abstract Expressionism was not a complete and utter joke. We know how that turned out.