I watched the video “Why is Modern Art so bad?” by John George for the first time in 2015, when surfing for videos with moderate size, with a title impressive enough to learn and relax, completely unrelated to the purpose of an in-depth assessment of the problem. My first impression was the way John George expressed his point of view: intuitive- “stormy” and slightly ironic. In particular, his selection of works and experiments on his apron is capable of attracting attention and voluntary consent, especially in an age of the ascendancy of “parody”.
The history of art is ultimately the history of artistic conceptions. And in order to understand and appreciate the right place of a work of art, it is necessary to find the tradition/system or line of art to which the work belongs. In a nutshell, the history of Western art can be temporarily reduced to two large paradigms – corresponding to two concepts of ‘art’ with different ‘standards’.
Before the 19th century, due to influences from Plato’s Eidos (idea) doctrine from antiquity, Western art spanning nearly 20 centuries was still largely conceived as mimesis. emphasizes the ‘realistic’ element of reality. This concept was further developed by the philosophers of the Enlightenment such as David Hume, I. Kant, etc. in aesthetic theories, generally agreeing in the view of making ‘beautiful’ the measure of all works of art. However, such an artistic concept can no longer be a reference system to explain the works of art of the 19th and 20th centuries. Judging by the old paradigm of Beauty, it is impossible to understand why Machel Duchamp’s urinal (Fountain, 1917) could be a work of art because it lacks most of the quality requirements. material, the imitation of reality is also original… like a ‘regular’ work of art.
But if we consider art as a cultural practice, we will find reflections on the artistic institutions that Fountain targets. It makes people think again about the original – a copy of the same material to create a work of art (no longer using the usual materials of fine art to simulate everyday objects, but using everyday objects to create works), that is, it belongs to another concept of ‘art’, collectively called ‘contemporary art’ and needs a different reference system to evaluate.
This is deeply rooted in the spirit of Descart and another junior philosopher, I. Kant. However, a series of dualities dating from Descart’s time, including the subjectivity-objectivity pair, have been radically revised by 20th-century hermeneutics, notably M. Heidegger and Ev. The most eloquent in the field of aesthetics is G. Gadamer. In his masterpiece Truth and Method, Gadamer argues that the concept of ‘objectivity’, especially objectivity in the reception of art, is utopian. Since each individual observes the work from a certain horizon (horizon), i.e. the entire historical space, Gadamer also calls it tradition, which surrounds the individual from birth and influences the evaluation of the work. products, that is, the truths drawn when receiving works of art.
Therefore, Professor John George’s view on the degeneration of art in the clip above is not reasonable. Art isn’t getting worse, it’s just extending its other possibilities. And to realize this, it takes an openness and willingness to seek to understand the difference.