Art

The False Path of Activist Art

In 1984 Suzi Gablik, an American art commentator, published Has Modernism Failed? It was a question made urgent by the collapse of modernism’s ambitions into a disorienting postmodernism. At the same time there was the seeming collapse of artistic autonomy—and hence credibility—into an acceptance of the values of the marketplace. In the United States this was the hyper-capitalist, busily self-promoting art market that was skewered by Robert Hughes in his Time articles and essays. His summary was, “What strip mining is to nature the art market has become to culture.” The evident desire of so many prominent contemporary artists for…

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