Cutting off Government Funding

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Cutting off Government Funding

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


On Jun 15, 2006, at 4:01 AM, argimenes wrote:
There's another danger in cutting off public funding for the arts. Corporations, dealers, private collectors, and public collections already have an enormous amount invested in the various permutations of modernist art.

Of course they do, but if they care about the value and one of the props holding up that value is undercut how could that not drive down the prices? And at some point such falling prices would generate a rush for the exits as the prices collapsed completely. Again, I am not saying that eliminating the NEA would all by itself cure the problems of the art world, but I think it would be a great start.

The success of post-modernism was never about aesthetic quality anyway, and it's unlikely the house of cards would simply collapse if the funding were ripped away.

But that lack of aesthetic quality is all the more reason why its value is founded elsewhere, such as the support of modernist institutions such as the NEA, universities, and so on.

The real art of post-modernism is in selling incompetent work (and banal ideas) for exhorbitant sums. When you get down to it, it's simply highly successful marketing.

But marketing of what to whom? If they have to market their art to the people who are supposedly enjoying it then they will need to produce something that people will genuinely want to experience rather than something that will convince some grant committee or academic writing in a journal that they are doing something worth spending money on.

It keeps on selling because post-modern critics have so muddied the concept of 'fine art' that any object becomes saleable at the merest suggestion it is 'art'. In other words, all the traditional criteria of value were expunged in academia by the time of Greenberg, so the whole system is maintained by prestige.

Sure, so let's at least stop the bleeding by stopping the "seed funding" of that stuff happening in the university art programs, NEA grants, funding for "performance art" spaces, modernist journals, and so on. Without such things propping up artists good and bad, the ones that will tend to survive and thrive will be those offering genuine aesthetic value over those with political connections and academic credentials.

Simply pulling NEA funding wouldn't necessarily harm the prestige of post-modern art. It might actually multiply it, as these guys thrivon the opposition of the philistine (art-haters).

You are right that opposing modernism creates a backlash against us "philistines" but I think that's something we need to live with because if we don't do anything that will annoy them they win by default.

--Brian