Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cubist Food

A cartoon by Frank King (April 1913), making fun of cubist art.

James Elkins in Why Art Cannot Be Taught. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001, p. 68—

Art school catalogs from the turn of the century are filled with reproductions of student paintings that look like slavish copies of John Singer Sargent or Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and exhibition catalogs from the 1950s show hundreds of students' works that emulate abstract expressionism. The lesson I draw from looking at older art school catalogs and graduation exhibitions is that fifty years from now even the most diverse-looking work will begin to seem quite homogenous. Works that seemed new or promising will fade into what they really are: average works, mediocre attempts to emulate the styles of the day. That's depressing, I know: but it's what history teaches us.


Joshua Fineberg in Classical Music: Why Bother?: Hearing the World of Contemporary Culture Through a Composer's Ear. London: Routledge, 2006—

Most art is crap. This may be a shocking idea to many people. We think of art as the great masterworks we know, and it's very easy to forget the mountains of mediocrity that were sifted to lift Bach or Dante or Emily Dickinson to their Olympian heights.


Alan Fletcher in The Art of Looking Sideways. Phaidon Press, 2001—

I made my weekly telephone call to my mother. "What have you been up to this week?" she asked—as usual. "Nothing much," I responded—as usual. Then adventurously said, "I've been putting a book together." "Oh, what's it about," she queried—with vague interest. My mother wasn't into reading, she equated it with working. "Well," I improvised, "it's about seeing." "Oh, I see"—she said. Then changed the subject. "Are you looking forward to going on holiday next week?"