“Has Modernism failed?” by Suzi Gablik published in 1984 confronts the social situation of contemporary art. It explores the relevance of spiritual and moral values in a society orientated around (1) “manic production, maximum energy flow and a fixation with commodities”. It deals with the Bureaucratic powers of the art world and the results this has had on art and how this has forced artists to retract from society into (2) “individualism” and the effects that has had on modern art. Loss of tradition and values is a strong theme throughout and Gablik shows the drastic effects this has had on art.
(3) “Art began its relentless advance into traditionalesness every new style served as a new beginning, a new plunge ahead”
This is where the problem started artists began to lose touch with age old traditions and values which society needs to exsist. Instead Modernism focused on the self, on freedom and self sufficiency at the expense of tradition and values. This caused many different problems for the artists.(4) “ In its quest for autonomy and its belief that art cannot possibly thrive any longer constrained by moral or social demands, Modernism discouraged the individual from finding any good outside himself”. This way of thinking became embedded in artists whether it was the futurist worship of the modern or the Dadaist rejection of the modern corruption they had the same effect, over throw the past, reject traditions, keep questioning, always making something new, the new became the (5) “chief emblem of positive value”. The problem with art that abandons any governing tradition is it leaves itself open for manipulation by the forces of the market capitalism. Artists traded their autonomy for the money and security of (6) “ institutionalized individuality” 1. www.thamesandhudsan.com
3. “Has Modernism Failed?” by Suzi Gabik published 1984 by Thames and Hudsan in USA page 115 4. “Has Modernism Failed?” by Suzi Gabik page120
offered by aggressive art dealers and museums increasingly reliant on corporate support. Submission to (7) “the big powerful machine” of the art market replaced the artists independent moral authority. This lack of tradition in Modernism has failed to develop the means for training artists. In losing touch with spiritual values and traditions art also lost touch with society as a whole. Only in hindsight can we now see that tradition and authority maybe necessary even to make a genuine avant-garde possible in order to provide something to revolt against. It has had other effects on artists too.(8) “ The artist finds himself under continuous pressure to be modern, but discovers that to be modern now is to be traditional- a law of history that Heraclitus called enontiodromia,”
(9)“In primitive societies, the incentives for making art are chiefly none economic, they arise from tradition and religious considerations”.
This is not the case now however, artists have sold out to the bureaucratic powers of the art world, which has resulted in artists retracting from society into individualism which in turn leads (10) “ to a negative attitude towards society, and the sense of a culture deeply alienated from its surroundings.” There has always been correlation between societies values, directions and the art it produces.(11) “ Modernism as we have seen has cultivated its objects largely as a mode of cultural resistance as antidotes to a bureaucratic administered and over rationalised way of life.”
(12)“ Anxious objects” chapter three in Gabliks book is a word used to describe art that (13) “makes us uneasy because of uncertainty as to whether we are in the presence of a genuine work of art or not.” 7. “Has Modernism Failed?” by Suzi Gabik page 52
8. “Has Modernism Failed?” by Suzi Gabik page 117
9. “Has Modernism Failed?” by...