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« "Good Girl" Re-redux | Main | Tivo Redux »

August 23, 2002

Andrea del Sarto Redux

Friedrich --

Thanks for the thoughts about del Sarto. I've got a book about him on my shelf that I've never given a close enough look. Now I will.

Cool speculations earlier as well about why 19th century academic art has been so despised. I wonder too if the fact of its being "hypocritical" has been a strike against it. For we moderns, direct confrontation is (supposedly) good, circumlocution is bad.

I'm a big partisan of hypocrisy myself. Like stereotyping, it's a sometimes-useful tactic. I'd go so far as to argue that without it (or some other way of applying sugarcoating) social life isn't possible. (I'd go so far as to argue that hypocrisy and stereotyping are inevitable -- so why argue about whether they should or shouldn't be?)

Given that art is, if not primarily at least partially, a social activity: what's wrong with some hypocrisy in our art?

This thought first came to me 5ish years ago as I stood in the Art Institute of Chicago, looking in rapture at 19th century white marble American nudes with mythological and allegorical names ("Justice", "Fidelity"). It also occured to me: what's great about the hypocrisy is that it enables you to look at and enjoy these nudes in public.

Enjoying it in public

Somehow because of this, the flesh of the nudes came into focus and seemed more, not less, tender. The eroticism became more, not less, powerful, and I realized I was experiencing it privately, even though the art itself was very public. Suddenly the magic of that kind of art started to work for me. Why had my modern/post-modern art education and experience deprived me of this pleasure previously?

Do these (to me) dumb modernist attitudes about authenticity and confrontation and their supposedly essential connection to art all go back to Romanticism? Which more and more I think of as a kind of cancer that I don't want entering the system. (Or, maybe better: that needs constant beating-back.) But that's probably terribly classical of me.

[Note to anyone who objects to my use of cancer as a metaphor in the previous paragraph and who's about to reach for a copy of Sontag in support: Fuck Sontag. I've had cancer too, and I can't imagine being offended by someone using "cancer" as a metaphor. ]

Incidentally, do you enjoy your Tivo? I've been reading articles recently about how much users love 'em (once they've caught on to how to use them), and about how Tivo-like boxes will be everywhere in a few years. Does it change the way you use tv?



posted by Michael at August 23, 2002


I'm sorry, but "Fuck Sontag" brings truly disgusting images into my mind. Can't you find a way to give her the disrespect she deserves without suggesting that anyone might ever again touch her moldy jello-flesh?

Posted by: Steve S. on August 23, 2002 5:30 PM

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