Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Generation Takes Control

Of the world, in the person of Barack Obama, and also of the arts scene. When I was a child various forms of modernism ruled the galleries, especially Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, and there was nothing more roundly mocked than Victorian painting. But now that we D&D-playing, Tolkien-reading anti-modernists have grown up and seized control of museum boards and the like, we get to impose our own tastes on the masses. Case in point: a major exhibition of the work of John W. Waterhouse at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

I just love this stuff. You can have your canvases covered with paint splashes or acres of muddy black the represent subscious pain, your cute concept art that comments on socially relevant themes. Give me a grand spectacle of myth or ancient times, charged with the erotic force of fate, time and longing. Give me Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, the Pre-Raphaelites.

There is a certain pleasure in being against the times, the smug superiority of feeling that your own tastes are better than other people's. But there are also real advantages to having allies in important places, who bring the things you like to the forefront. I find that this is increasingly happening for me in art galleries, in academic history departments, and even on television. Now if only we could talk some sense into the architects.

1 comment:

kathy said...

Hm. I like these, and modern buildings (and quite a bit of modern art). Perhaps it was because I was raised by parents who like Opera, pop, country, classical and many other kinds of music.