Letter: Influential art

July 13, 2013


To the editor:

Friday’s “Arts demise” editorial touches on a complex issue. Visual arts, for example, produce a form of cognition. The things we see shape the way we think. Art history is full of surprising revolutions that fascinate viewers ,making them observe carefully and question previous authority (and sometimes passionately denounce those changes). Sixteenth century Italy’s pictorial expression changed the use of art in service to belief to naturalism and immediacy.

In our time the vitality of abstractionism (think of landscape painting from Turner to Twombly) has in common with Italian Renaissance painters the refusal to look back on an idealized past except with sarcasm. Instead it looks for the lines of continuity that connect us to our past while engaging us in the present. This helps assure our future regardless of how unstable or unlikely that future may appear.

Destroying this visual experience (unfunding works with a corrosive impact as surely as Savonarola’s public square art burnings) leaves a terribly narrowed and dull present with an erasure of human memory. We are left with the uniformity of a consumerized culture, influenced by novel goods and technologies, in submission to a mythic past that appeals to a static world of traditional ritual and art. At worst, it can reflect the impulses of zealots as was the fate Japanese art endured in the 1930s under an ultranationalist and militaristic state capitalism. That was just one of a multitude of unfortunate recent repressions from the ever-suspicious ideological eye.


Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso

He always comes to mind when I think of an artist that painted in an effort to inform people and make a difference.

Thank you Mr. Nowlin for your letter. Humans have been creating art since day one and a lot of that art depicts both spiritual and secular reality. It is a need to see, to perceive and understand that is hard wired into the human brain. Artists reach deep within themselves to create which is why the great paintings and sculptures have such an emotional as well as mental reverberation. http://www2.ljworld.com/users/photos/2013/jul/13/258437/

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

your claim that unfunding is the same as burning is silly at best.

just because government doesn't fund it, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. in fact, it may well be better without the heavy hand of government.

also artists may work better without the dependence on the government dole. truly, look at all the works created throughout history without government sponsorship. yes, some were sponsored by the equivalent of the Koch's of their time, but private sponsorship of art works.

please put away your alarmism.

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