Sunday, April 5, 2015

the dialectic of decadence

“Modernity can be defined as the desperate search for means of rejuvenation - symbolized by the value placed on newness – to counteract decadence.....  Modernity seesaws - often violently – between feelings of decadence and rejuvenation, the sense of imminent decline and unexpected rebirth.... [Moderns are prone to] a peculiar feeling of self-decay”`

“Avant-garde art... involves a wish to regress to the primordial beginning to escape the decadent end”

["The artist of today  a/k/a the neo-avant-garde artist, a/k/a pseudo-avantgarde artist] is a necrophiliac of art, more in love with it – especially if it is dead – than with life”

“Behind postmodernist celebration of the copy and mockery of modernist orginality is disbelief in primordiality and its transmutative power. Simulation is one postmodernist strategy of discreditation and mockery of modernist primordiality, and destruction of the boundary between avant-garde and kitsch—between the authentic and the inauthentic, the high and the low – is another”

The neo-avant-garde artist “is concerned about surviving in a world that seems to have no future and so has become all past, which is the ultimate decadent attitude... the neo-avant-garde artist lives among the ruins of the avant-garde past. He preys on it like a cynical vulture on a rotten carcass.... He is a kind of castrato, singing art falsetto. His is an ultra-arch art masking the return of the anxious feeling of decadence..." 

“He gains fame and fortune for no clear accomplishment, but simply for being a stylish symbol... Novelty is proof enough of his artistic power and credibilty”

“Fame and fortune are the neo-avant-garde artist’s reward for forfeiting the therapeutic criticality of avant-garde art”

“Appropriation art is informed by the decadence syndrome: the sense of the decline and impending death of art. This is expressed as a feeling of déjà vu and a sense of art’s loss of significant human purpose.....". This results in a vampire-strategy  “as though to suck the dregs of that faded vitality and ambition from it”

“The appropriation artist is not at all influenced by what he appropriates, in the traditional sense of the term, for what he appropriates is not an inspiration and catalyst to him”

"As long as there is a famous art to appropriate he feels vitally young, even as the act of appropriation announces his decadence.”

Neo-avant-garde / pseudo-avant-garde art  “shows that there is no way forward in art today, only different ways backward toward a past that is only technically usable, not emotionally and existentially convincing. They show that a kind of plagiarism has become the ideal of art’

all quotes from Donald Kuspit, The Cult of the Avant-Garde Artist

bonus quote, via Kuspit's book: "In art there are only two types of people: revolutionaries and plagiarists” - Gauguin

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