Thursday, June 23, 2005


Upon answering the Art Survey, I realized that I consider most of the (fine) artists I know to be pretentious. Also, I checked Warhol in nearly every category: innovative, pretentious, distinctive, speaks to me, brilliant, overrated, stimulating, offensive, passé, prestigious, sexy, good investment, different, incomprehensible, fun, courageous, trendy, inspirational, controversial, connected, beautiful. How can one artist be all these things? The question might just as well be - how can a great contemporary artist not be all these things at some point?
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Mark said...

"Pretentious" is a buzzword which gets tossed around a lot in the poetry world in the States. The word represents sort of a battleground whereby the present climate of anti-intellectualism is seeking ever-so-insidiously into our arts.

A poet is labeled as "pretentious" if his or her work presents challenges, obstacles or unanswered questions for the reader. Work which is "pretentious" is not "accessible" and therefore somehow invalid.

I think the word is an essentially empty category when it is scrutinized closely. To assume that a reader will not "understand" a work because it is "difficult" is to demean the reader/viewer. A brave and true viewer/reader has no use for this term "understanding." Anything observed is "understood" insofar as our brains are in a constant state of assimilating stimuli.

"Pretentiousness" here is a term which is used by those who don't believe in humanity and are at root greater practitioners of the "elitism" they are so ready to condemn in others whose work does not fall under the bar of their least common denominator...

Anonymous said...

Well ask yourself this. Are you entirely convinced it is all genuine? If you do, then who is the one pretending.


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