Sunday, August 02, 2015

Martha Rosler on the self-ascribed messianic status of artists as a necessary, if imaginary, corrective to their dependance on the big money of patrons.

A great deal has been asked of artists, in every modern age. In previous eras artists were asked to edify society by showing forth the good, the true, and the beautiful. But such expectations have increasingly come to seem quaint as art has lost its firm connections to the powers of church and state. Especially since the romantics, artists have routinely harbored messianic desires, the longing to take a high position in social matters, to play a transformative role in political affairs; this may be finally understood as a necessary—though perhaps only imaginary—corrective to their roles, both uncomfortable and insecure, as handmaidens to wealth and power. Artists working under patronage conditions had produced according to command, which left them to express their personal dimension primarily through the formal elements of the chosen themes. By the nineteenth century, artists, now no longer supported by patronage, were free to devise and follow many different approaches both to form and to content, including realism and direct social commentary.19 Still, the new middle-class customers, as well as the state, had their own preferences and demands, even if a certain degree of transgression was both anticipated and accepted, however provisionally (the Salon des Refusés was, after all, established by Napoléon III). ...
There are armies of books that could be written on Romanticism as an ideology that sacralized the arts as an end unto itself, but since Leonard B Meyer wrote a fantastic book about that already that was published decades ago we'll just try to get to blogging about that at some point. 
One of the percolating ideas I'm hoping to blog about in what was supposed to be a review of Andrew Durkin's Decomposition is that Durkin failed to accomplish much by attacking what he identifies as the ideology of authorship and authenticity in music without aiming to dismantle the entire ideological paradigm of Romanticism going back centuries.  This would potentially be because he doesn't want to dismantle the ideology of romanticism at all and perhaps even embraces it but finds it problematic in the sense that it has been co-opted by the market.  What else was going to happen?  The Authenticity Hoax covered that breezily enough and not without a few pretty good points along the way.

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