Toward A New Paradigm For Art

Re-reading art critical writings, such as Clement Greenberg, Rosalind Krauss and others from the the 1950's to the 1980's, is a reminder for this artist of how much our contemporary situation has changed because of the digital revolution connected with the growth of global capitalism.

From the instant shock we experienced as we first viewed Earth from the Apollo Mission and realized that there were not boundaries between countries, that we humans were alone, and together, on one Planet, we have created a cybernetic linkage throughout the world through the Internet. All this, in less 30 years!

During this time, the Earth has suffered struggles between International Capitalism and cultures locked into religious and tribal patterns, which due to lack of universal education and the enlightenment which follows, have not created modern technology to assist their economic, social and agricultural needs. At a disadvantage, their natural resources and people have been exploited, their economic systems overwhelmed by foreign products, and their political self-determination undermined by corrupt alliances with Multinational Corporations and military interventions.

These cultural struggles have generated wars, displaced whole populations, racial and religious persecution, with individual and collective acts of dramatic destruction.

With Globalism has come Totalitarian Capitalism: the "new world order" promised by former President George Herbert Walker Bush at the end of his term. In 1990, a full ten years before the Millennium, the new term, "Globalism," reverberated throughout mass media, even appearing in fashion magazine articles. It all sounded so wonderful! Multiculturalism was also part of the "new world order" as a component of what turned out in the end, to be a reaching for a larger global consumer market.

Globalism was, and is, a planned order of consumption, with cheap manufacturing, marketing, profits and more consumption in an "endless" loop. Sustainability be damned! The tragic consequences to the Earth environment, human and animal health is shared by Art Institutions. Nearly everyone now serves the hegemony of the Totalitarian Capitalist model. It takes great will power to avoid the lure which drags even artists into the maelstrom of Materialism with its rewards of possible fame, celebrity, wealth.

Through global interconnection, art fairs, world class museums in so-called developing countries, the art world is exposed to diverse expressions by artists whose originality is derived from their individual cultures. But, like the world music movement, such art is threatened with a homogenization that eats away at the moral, religious and social meanings behind the work of these artists.

This is the effect of business models of production which have crept into Art Institutions which have embraced a system dependent on marketing. The Art Tradition which was formerly dependent upon connoisseurship and educated eyes which provided  filters that refined the search for important talent has been replaced by a demand for easily identifiable images which can be marketed via the web.

This unfortunate state of affairs has extended to museums which have allowed themselves to become dependent upon corporate sponsorship and Trustees who come from the corporate world: a world which does not tolerate challenges to its power. A mindset which is built on mass exploitation is not going to be amenable to Art which challenges the system which the Trustees represent: the sacred role of Art to nurture the individual spirit while revealing the flaws in contemporary society.

This situation is enough to create despair among the cognoscenti, the artists, experts, serious collectors, critics and museum curators, but not, thank goodness, to discourage the Brave, who labor on in search for meaningful art, keeping their integrity and moral values intact, not catering to vapid consumer tastes.

Grand themes still exist in Art. There are still artists, such as Richard Serra, who creates work which uses and reflects the cosmic laws of physics. There are those who celebrate the natural world, such as James Turrell, the poets who walk the mountains and forests, such as Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy, expressing human awe over those cosmic forces which can be experienced in the visible world. Through mathematics, the order which it represents, the logic of a unifying idea is used by Dorothea Rockeburne to create work that expresses the ideal of a moral, transcendent Universe.

So, ART IS NOT DEAD! The banalities of Warhol, Koons and the empress-without-clothes, Marina Abromovic, are worn out. Warhol's values are passé. Koons has none, and Abromovic is a pathetic object for the admiration of libidinous men of a certain age. Art has a greater purpose than merchandise for the jaded, the bored and the visually ignorant with too much money.

The Corporate "muzak," giant video installations of meaninglessness in major museums, provide backdrops for the artistically bankrupt. A new paradigm is needed for genuine artists and their audiences to provide the spark which can ignite social forces to combat ersatz-entertainments-masquerading-as-art which dull the senses, sap the spirit, and render audiences passive. Trusting one's eye, the viewer, the curator, the critic, is led toward those artists who have the power that comes from insight to make Art which causes us to question and to act. History assures us of this.