What happens when art becomes purely a means of social critique detached from aesthetic values?
The Royal Academy of Arts is hosting a tribute to Marina Abramovic, most famous for her ‘piece’, The Artist is Present, in which she sat looking at people, and in Denmark, one artist took the money and ran. Literally.
In autumn 2021, a Danish museum opened two large crates to inspect two works it had commissioned from the artist Jens Haaning.
But when museum staff pulled out the canvases — a new work the artist had informed the museum was titled Take the Money and Run — the canvases were completely blank.
The museum, the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, had given Haaning a loan of 532,549 Danish krone, the equivalent of about $76,400. The money was to be used to recreate two earlier works by Haaning that depicted — in actual cold, hard cash affixed to canvas in a frame — the average annual income of a Dane and an Austrian, and the sizable gap between them, reflecting wage differences within the European Union.
The intended work of art was idiotic and so was the final product. If there were aesthetic standards, the museum might have some grounds for complaint, but they don’t exist, and the best evidence of that is that the museum turned around and exhibited the blank canvasses as a commentary on capitalism.
The museum nonetheless exhibited the blank canvases in its “Work It Out” show…
“Haaning’s new work Take the Money and Run is also a recognition that works of art, despite intentions to the contrary, are part of a capitalist system that values a work based on some arbitrary conditions,” the museum says in its exhibition guide. “Even the missing money in the work has a monetary value when it is called art and thus shows how the value of money is an abstract quantity.”
Do you know what is a commentary on capitalism? Every single thing in the world.
If attaching an abstract value to objects is capitalism, then everything is capitalism and you could just as easily stick a pile of sugar packets in the museum and call it social commentary (of course it’s been done already) or a banana (done also) or a golden toilet (done and stolen).
When art consists of using everyday objects to make sophomoric statements about life pitched to an idiot leftist audience, then everything is art and nothing is art.
That’s what happened to modern art which abandoned aesthetics and now consists of social justice lectures embodied in everyday objects, random scrawls or even less accessible and more pointless exhibitions.
Art without aesthetics which is then reduced to politics is nonsense.
Is a blank canvas art? Sure. It’s making a statement, isn’t it. And if all art is, is the act of making statements, then all of politics is art, and art is politics, and we don’t need art, we just need politics.
That is what the Left has done to literature, movies, (and most forms of entertainment), religion, art, and anything it gets its hands on. It eats out the substance and leaves nothing.