THOUGHTS ON NEO-MODERNISM
Mulling over Martin Lang’s essay about the harm learning to draw does to “art” students this morning, it occurred to me that he genuinely has no use for drawing; I believe it does nothing for him because, I surmise, he does not, as an “artist”, inhabit the visual world. I think that anyone who does, anyone who takes keen joy not only in sex, for example, but in its potential visual beauty, or of humanity in general, or of the heartbreaking gorgeousness of certain landscapes, will want to immerse him or herself in the marvel of it all, will want to co-create, will, in short, want to be an artist. Neo-mods lack artistic vision because, in the most physical way, they have no interest in vision.
Marlen Tapia Mendo - Madrid, Spain
I find it Ironic that neo-mods say we (realists) are “missing so much” by rejecting conceptualism and other strains of neo-modernism, yet the presenters of the stuff seem to willfully distance themselves from the wonder of the visual world of painting and drawing in which, in any excellent single work, new things are continuously revealed.
When the early modernists painted, they (most of them) lived in the visual world. By the time Greenberg was done with it, prescribing first the lack of content, then the lack of painterly or graphic interest - say around the time of Frank Stella and Judd - the visual world had been solidly left behind and, from then on, modernism became neo-modernism and took no concern in what had been and continued to be, for the rest of the world, art.
What I - and I think many others - have always misunderstood and have been trying to find in neo-modernist painting - a minimalist canvas for example - is some kind of corollary between the two worlds: a satisfying visual experience. However there is none to be had, and I don’t believe any was ever intended in most, if not all of it.
Neo-mods revel in displays of cheap pornography and crude sexual totems - more or less a display to my mind, that says merely, “I, yes I ! The ARTIST, have been influenced by The MEDIA !" But more than influenced, they seem victimized by it. For all its sexual content, there is never anything sensual to be found, not even I find, in the open displays of nudity so popular among feminist minded presenters (no slight to feminism, as my thinking goes that way).
Marcel Duchamp's work sometimes takes joy in the visual - his wine bottle for example (almost sentimental by God!) whether he wanted it to or not; because, I think, he was rooted in the visual world, having become a competent painter himself in his youth. I want to touch it when I see it, as I do with a good painting (though for very different reasons). Let alone not want to touch, I never, never want to be in the same room with the sordid displays of truck tires, engine blocks and over sized penises that I’ve seen in articles and museums. And there is little different between the truck tire and a museum display of pornography. They are merely things, like the rocks and tree branches and cheap clocks neo-mods are so fond of. You can be sure that whatever the presenter of such objects wants you to THINK about the things, those in search of a visual understanding of them will never find it.