Baudrillard, Art

 

My concern is not the misery of the world. I don’t want to be cynical, but we are not going to protect art. The more cultural protectionism we enact, the more waste we have, the more false successes, false promotions there are. It puts us in the marketing realm of culture…
To put it naively, the pretension of art shocks me. And it is hard to escape, it did not happen overnight. Art was turned into something pretentious with the will to transcend the world, to give an exceptional, sublime form to things. Art has become an argument for mental prowess.
The mental racket run by art and the discourse on art is considerable. I do not want anyone to make me say that art is finished, dead. That is not true. Art does not die because there is no more art, it dies because there is too much. The excess of reality disheartens me as does the excess of art when it imposes itself as reality.

— Jean Baudrillard, “The Conspiracy of Art”

 

But I do not put myself in a position of truth. Everyone makes his or her own choices. If what I say is worthless, just let it drop, that’s all.
The article was written a little hastily. I should not have started like that. I should have said that there is a hint of nullity in contemporary art. Is it null, or isn’t it? What is nullity? My article is perfectly contradictory. On the one hand, I use nullity as null or nothing, and on the other, I say: nullity is a tremendous singularity. That is a critique that could have been made.
My text reflects a mood, an obsession with something, something more. That we have moved from art as such to a sort of trans-aestheticization of banality… It comes from Duchamp, okay. I have nothing against Duchamp, it is a fantastic and dramatic turn.
But he did set in motion a process in which everyone is now implicated, including us. What I mean is that in daily life, we have this “readymadeness” or this trans-aestheticization of everything which means that there is no longer any illusion to speak of. This collapsing of banality into art and art into banality, or this respective game, complicit and all… Well, from complicity to conspiracy… We are all compromised. I am not denying it. I certainly have no nostalgia for old aesthetic values.

— Jean Baudrillard, “The Conspiracy of Art”

 

The only things I said about art that excited me were on Warhol, Pop Art and Hyperrealism. I think Andy Warhol was the only artist at a time when are was caught up in a very important transitional movement, the only artist who was able to situate himself at the forefront, before all the changes. Maybe it’s also just luck or destiny… Everything that characterizes his work—the advent of banality, the mechanized gestures and images, and especially his inconolatry—he turned all of that into an event of platitude. It’s him and nobody else! Later on, other simulated it, but he was the greatest simulator, with style to match! The exhibition of his works in Venice (Summer 1990) far surpassed and outclassed everything else in the Biennial.
Andy Warhol was a big moment in the 20th century because he was the only one who had a gift for dramatization. He still managed to bring out simulation as drama, a dramaturgy: something dramatic slipped between two phases, the passage into the image and the absolute equivalence of all images. His principle was to say, “I am a machine, I am nothing.” Since then, everyone has just repeated the same mantra, only pretentiously. He, however, thought it as something radical: “I am nothing and I can function.” “I am working on every level, artistic, commercial, advertising…” “I am operationality itself!”
He affirmed the world in its total evidence, the stars, the post-figurative world (it is neither figurative nor non-figurative, but mythical). His world was glamorous and everyone in it was glamorous! Warhol’s act could be considered a revisitation of art after Duchamp. According to our own coordinates and temporality, it is less a work of art than an anthropological event. That’s what interests me about him: the object. He is someone who, with utter cynicism and agnosticism, brought about a manipulation, a transfusion of the image into reality, into the absent referent of star-making banality.
Warhol remains for me a found of modernity. It is somewhat paradoxical, since modernity is usually considered more of a destruction; yet there is a certain jubilation, not at all suicidal or melancholy, because, ultimately, that’s the way he is: cool, and even more than cool, totally insouciant. It’s mechanical snobbism and I like that kind of provocation of aesthetic morals. Warhol freed us from aesthetics and art…

— Jean Baudrillard, “The Conspiracy of Art”

 


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