death and decoration

"...No one (we assume, although actually it's questionable -- it might really be everyone) wants paintings just to be commodity objects. We want them to have significance and meaning. We have got ourselves into a wrong mindset where we think if there aren't obvious meanings then there isn't any meaning at all. Or if there is, it's not for us. We ask for all sorts of additions and backups. We can't accept visual meaning or formal meaning as enough. We believe it's decoration only -- we're right to think "decorative" is somehow wrong. It can be supremely right but in the ordinary usage of the word it's wrong. The decorative meaning of Rothko, for example, is powerful: he really could decorate a room...
But death is not really a runner nowadays for art.
The market works out what will sell. Out of an initially earnest bubbling up of contents from the artistic cutting edge of the 1970s emerges popular content obsessions like death and madness, which hark back to romanticism -- not because we're getting more sincere and poetic but because being so unhinged from anything meaningful or important we'll sample anything temporarily for fun.
If we stop and reflect for a moment, we're still a bit baffled: we can't see clearly what the connection was between art-world interest in deconstruction and the rise of fair ground meaning or lurid or fake meaning. One minute we were busy learning that we are constructs and then in the blink of an eye it turned out any old unthinking lunges at identity would do. The lesson the art market drew was that you could make money from identity and diversity..." /// PUT DOWNS AND SUCK UPS: MATTHEW COLLINGS' WEEKLY VENTINGS ABOUT THE ART WORLD NO 23: PAINTING AND MEANING, saatchi-blog

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