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August 10, 2007

Hinterland Diary

John Stoehr

A familiar scene of art in America today?

"The entire discourse surrounding the Viennese avant-garde demands skeptical scrutiny. Certain of these 'truths' -- fatuous generalizations about women, obnoxious remarks about the relative abilities of races and classes -- fail to impress the modern reader. . . . As in prior periods of cultural and social upheaval, revolutionary gestures betray a reactionary mind-set. Many members of the modernist vanguard would tack away from a fashionable solidarity with social outcasts and toward various forms of ultranationalism, authoritarianism, even Nazism. Moreover, only in a prosperous, liberal, art-infatuated society could such a determinedly anti-social class of artists survive, or find an audience. The bourgeois worship of art had implanted in artists' minds an attitude of infallibility, according to which the imagination made its own laws. That mentality made possible the extremes of modern art."

From Alex Ross' new book, to be published in October, "The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century."

Posted by John Stoehr at August 10, 2007 6:50 AM