In addition to being a conservative activist, I, Nikitas, am a painter and draughtsman; a novelist and short-story writer; and a designer of useful things. I currently have eight separate items that I have spent many years designing and that I wish to patent and manufacture including a system for repairing roads inexpensively and efficiently, a universal chair, and a simple device to make home heating 20% more efficient.
I received a BA degree in studio art from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1976 in painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture and was offered the opportunity to attend American’s most prestigious graduate art school, but declined. I had spent 16 years in school by then and wanted to get out and see the world.
Since then, and since I still am an active artist, I have done lots of thinking and theorizing about art and had frequently asked myself: “Where have all the artists gone?”
To understand this question, you must first ask the question: “What has art traditionally been and what is art today?” Because therein lies the answer.
Art traditionally was a pursuit of the sublime and the beautiful. That is why art was so highly treasured; because it hovered above the ordinary world and above the ugliness that is so common and so easy to create.
Art was made by “higher” people of great intelligence and often was referred to as “high art” or “high culture” or “fine art”. This existed for several thousand years. But today the art that is being made and shown in galleries and museums is “popular culture” or “low art” or “popular art”. This has happened in the last 150 years, starting with Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso. Call it Modern Art.
Look at history. For thousands of years, man treasured a specific, universal, ideal and original vision through arts. Artists were truly individualists who created their extraordinary work with flawless execution with an eye to order, proportion, harmony and balance.
Go to the Ancient Greeks for the source. From the Charioteer, an original bronze sculpture (above) of 480 BC by Sotades through Apollonius’ The Prize Fighter of 100 BC (also an original bronze), the Greeks set the standard for beauty and originality. Their mastery in describing the human form – the ultimate challenge – has never been matched.
Today however we have had more than a century of ugly, meaningless art made by barbarians like Picasso, Rene Magritte (the French surrealist who actually was trained in advertising), Willem de Kooning (the American expressionist) and Andy Warhol, the American Pop artist (who was nothing more than a commercial illustrator and a self-described artistic fraud).
But oh, no! we are told by today’s elite. If you do not see the genius of Max Beckmann or Georgia O’Keefe or Salvador Dali or Keith Haring or Damien Hirst, then you are just an uneducated rube!
Nonsense, friends, nonsense. In fact we skeptics are the wise ones. And the con of Modern Art is one of the biggest fabrications in world history.
To compare, just look at our universities. Would you say that today a graduate of Harvard University is the “higher person” that he might have been in, say, 1850 or even in 1950?
Of course not. Today he is a politically-correct, multicultural, feminist, gay, environmentalist parrot with no independent thoughts. Anybody can go to Harvard. Even Obama did, and his ignorant wife. They were passed right through on account of political concerns and race, not academic achievement.
So obviously all of Western scholarship has been dumbed down by the political left which controls the universities.
Art is part of that dumbing down. Students once were well versed in thousands of years of art history, and artists themselves would pursue drawing and painting in the classical sense.
But today art history begins in 1900 and, while painting and drawing still are taught, artists who become successful do not draw or paint. They use a faux ‘modern’ form of drawing and painting including copying, facsimile, rendering, representation, reproduction, scribbling or cartooning, everything exception description of the subject, which is the classical approach, and which is a very difficult thing to do.
That is why traditional paintings done by amateurs throughout history and even today appear “wooden” and “dead” and great paintings captured the naturalistic quality of life itself. These amateur paintings were immediately recognizable.
Because real, traditional drawing, sculpture and painting is a very special talent. That is why it is marginalized in art today – so that lesser people can get their revenge and become rich and famous and the truly talented people who ruled the arts for millennia are kept out as real art is disparaged as “academic” and “old fashioned”.
Why is this happening?
To answer that question, go back to 1848. Two things that happened in that year. First, the Industrial Revolution was exploding with new technologies arising regularly. And second Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto, the instruction book for social and economic destruction.
That book says that Western societies and economies are backward, that the natural economic system of capitalism is unfair and that the world should look forward to an ideal world under government control of the redistribution of wealth and power. This would include the redistribution of artistic wealth and power too.
Of course we know that when these communistic principles are applied that societies spiral down into poverty and genocide and ugliness, while a small, corrupt gangster elite that favors the new order rises above all.
The Communist Manifesto suggests that everything that Western man had achieved (Marx wrote it in Germany and thus was generally referring to Europe) was wrong and should be destroyed, which is what socialism/communism always does.
So communism routinely destroys capitalism, the Christian religion, the nuclear family, and all sustainable social and legal orders, and replaces it all with a lawless totalitarian government.
The traditional arts are also destroyed. In its suggestion that society should be re-made, followers of the Communist Manifesto have taken it upon themselves to say that the millennia-long tradition of beauty in art was wrong, that the Western triumph in art must be destroyed, and that beauty and scholarship and discipline must be swept aside and replaced with ugliness and stupidity and meaninglessness, or, to put it simply, with the opposite of what it had been.
Because that is precisely what has happened in the arts. And this is done in order to enrich and elevate no-talent artists, collectors, curators etc. who hew to the leftist agenda, just as the no-talent, listless, do-nothing government bureaucrat eventually comes to control all the means of production under communism, not the actual creative and innovative people who know what to do.
Imagine if professional baseball players today all were klutzy, skinny guys who dropped the ball half the time and couldn’t hit and couldn’t pitch. And that people would go to baseball games and enjoy themselves because they had never seen real baseball.
That is precisely what 150 years of socialism/communism has done to the arts. That is why people can go to these contemporary museums and galleries and performances and think that they are seeing art. Because the millennia-old concept of art has been buried.
And remember that people who control the contemporary arts today are left-wing liberals who have their wealth, reputations and livelihoods invested in the status quo – i.e., bad art – because they are mediocre and unsophisticated and uneducated people who could never survive in the world of “high art”. So they protect the status quo in order to protect themselves.
And the audience for Modern Art today is overwhelmingly liberals – as conservatives are maligned and snubbed – and they are conformists. This audience will never blow the whistle and say that they are in doubt about what they are seeing. Because the higher-up “experts” have told them what to think. This audience loves the cocktail parties and art openings and the prestige of owning what has come to be recognized as art and so they just play along. They are terrified of being thrown out of the elite club.
And the no-talent artists themselves adore the adulation and the wealth that is showered on them, adulation and wealth that they would never have attained under the old, millennia-long traditions where real talent was prized. This is just like the ignorant government bureaucrat enjoying a higher and higher standard of living for doing less and less as the society becomes more socialistic and its economy declines. Or the uneducated black or feminist or gay being elevated to Harvard simply on account of his/her race or political beliefs while the genuine scholar no longer is welcome.
Why are the Follywood actors liberals?
Because our left-wing popular culture has elevated them above their historical status of court jesters, that why.
Another thing happened around the time of the publication of the Communist Manifesto. In 1859 the first oil well was drilled in America. Colonel Edward Laurentine Drake struck oil at 69 feet in Titusville, Pennsylvania. This put the already-burgeoning industrial revolution into overdrive, replacing coal and steam engines with more efficient oil and eventually the internal combustion engine.
Kaboom! The world would never be the same. The Old World was pushed into oblivion and a new super-materialistic world was being born, one that rejected historical attributes like patient quality, scholarship and discipline in exchange for the quick buck made without effort or study.
And what happened in the arts in the 1860s and 1870s?
The French artist Paul Cezanne – who was an inept painter in the traditional sense – began to break up the traditional picture plane into geometric forms, surely under the direct or indirect influence of Marx. In other words, Cezanne was beginning the official undermining of thousands of years of art history.
So after Cezanne set the precedent “artists” like Van Gogh and Monet continued to degrade traditional images until they were almost unrecognizable. Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night painting looks like nothing more than one of a million cheap illustrations that you can find on the internet every day done by someone in a drug-induced hallucination. Monet painted his images in very broad, general terms, something that is easy to do, like bland rock music compared to a symphony. In short the hard work of making discernible, clear, precise, original images after years of study had come to a close.
And then simple cartooning came to the fore. This is Picasso, the Great Destroyer and an avowed communist. And by the time of Picasso’s ascendancy, the whole idea of an artist doing the disciplined work of art history was already forgotten. This continues today.
But anyone who disagrees with the Modern Art template today is called names and is tagged as a fool and is shamed by the left-wing art establishment. This is like the person who says that the emperor has no clothes. It is not allowed.
Meanwhile the children are propagandized. They are told to paint like Picasso and are told that they are geniuses for doing so and have a great future. And what child is going to argue with that when the alternative is criticism of your actual artistic talents?
And so where have all the real artists gone?
No, they have not disappeared. You just have to know where to look. And look no further than industry, science, technology and commerce.
Yes, indeed. Think about artists. For thousands of years, they were simply extraordinary men of their times. And since less developed societies – even in Renaissance Europe – offered vastly fewer other opportunities than we have today, talented people often went into the arts and its difficult and demanding apprenticeship system. (Although even Leonardo da Vinci had a great scientific mind.)
Today, however, in a very wealthy world with many opportunities, educated, talented and serious people don’t want to be involved in the arts, particularly in the way they are now manifested. They understand that the arts are a joke. And they want to make money and live well doing something serious like art used to be. And so they make their “high” designs in modern industry, engineering and technology.
Think about a Boeing aircraft. Such a thing never was heard of over the millennia. Yet such an airplane is a very beautiful thing, very elegant in form without an inch out of line. Because it has a high function – it transports hundreds of people at high speed over long distances – and therefore must have a high form to achieve that.
This aircraft is physically beautiful, just like a great suspension bridge is a physically beautiful thing. Every inch is completely mapped out ahead of time by a very intelligent person, like a great painting from the Old World. And so the people who design such an aircraft or bridge are really the artists of our time. It is the Boeing 787 that belongs in a museum.
And by making things that actually function at a very high level, these new artists are raising things like our industrial infrastructure to the level of art and giving us things like air travel that man only dreamed of for thousands of years.
Meanwhile the art museums and galleries are full of ugliness done by the third-rate people who came in to fill the void as the talented people pursued bigger and more serious ideas in the industrial economy.
Indeed the real beauty in today’s world is in the advanced things created by our commerce and industrial design – highly-engineered things like airplanes, bridges, turbines, record-breaking race cars and even the precise and specific visual layout of a computer chip. This is where the artists are today. They are making the world better in a completely different way than they once did. Even highways must be beautiful in order to function:
In fact the real art museums today are the world at large. So if you go to San Francisco, forget the modern art museum. It is full of detritus and ugliness. If you want to see something transcendent, go look at the Golden Gate Bridge and you will see beauty of the first order created by a real genius.
And if you want to fly back home on an jetliner that looks all distorted like it came out of a Picasso painting, good luck.
What would Leonardo da Vinci be doing today if he were alive?
Probably designing race cars or fighter aircraft. He wouldn't be caught dead in the same museum with a cultural dog like Pablo Picasso.