"Art Is Whatever an Artist Says It Is"

George Will says artists have become "another servile interest group seeking morsels from the federal banquet"

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WHO: George Will


LENGTH: 749 words of lamentation for true talent lost


TODAY'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: The National Endowment for the Arts subsidizing mediocre "artists" who push a liberal agenda


THE VILLAIN: The Obama administration and it's "incontinent lust to politicize everything"


MODERN INVENTIONS HE CAN DO WITHOUT: Plebian art, egalitarianism, art as a public good


WHO HE SECRETLY MISSES: Anarchist artists who never would have let big government get them down


NUMBER OF REFERENCES TO "ART" IN CONTEMPTUOUS QUOTATIONS:  5


THE WAY WE WERE:


Time was, artists were proudly adversarial regarding authority, the established order, etc. "Epater le bourgeois!" and all that. Now they are just another servile interest group seeking morsels from the federal banquet. Are they real artists? Sure, because in this egalitarian era, government reasons circularly: Art is whatever an artist says it is, and an artist is whoever produces art. So, being an artist is a self-validating vocation.
[...]Invoking a utilitarian principle -- the greatest self-esteem for the greatest number -- the two endowments effectively said: We hear America singing and everyone sings equally well. Napoleon advocated a society of careers open to talents. By subsidizing artists, broadly -- very broadly -- defined, government creates careers open to the untalented.
[...]Today, when arts graduates are still plentiful, the cheerful if loopy assumption is that art is like artichokes -- increase the financial demand, the supply will increase.



This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.