Wednesday, November 14, 2007

THE SHOCK OF THE NEW. Regular readers will know how annoyed I am by American mopings over putatively conservative art. But I will happily make an exception for British Conservative MP Ed Vaizey's "Modern Art is Rightwing" at the Guardian, if only for its head-exploding potential:
Contemporary art is highly individualistic. It is about freedom of expression, the chance to make one's mark and to speak with a distinctive voice - all characteristics of the right, rather than the left. Contemporary artists are entrepreneurs in every sense of the word. The Brit Artists of the 1990s have turned themselves into brands, selling a luxury commodity to a group of discerning purchasers. The Damian Hirst skull, retailing at £50 million, could not remotely be described as a leftwing statement, except in the sense that, like many projects of the left, it is massively over-priced and a colossal waste of money (only kidding Damian)...

Contemporary artists are busy making money, just like any other capitalist in Britain, or the developed world, today. The contemporary art market is just that, a market where people invest and even people like Hugh Grant can make money. The Frieze Art Fair is a huge trading floor - although its enlightened founders, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, recognise their corporate social responsibility by securing an acquisition budget for Tate Modern...
I'd like to think the essay is satirical, or at least tongue in cheek. The idea of Damian Hirst as a conservative icon is positively Shavian. It may just be that British politics is stranger than I can comprehend. Nonetheless I hope our homegrown morons take it up for debate. It would make Roger Scruton and Roger Kimball bite the stems off their pipes. And if it gets Rod Dreher to support Hirst's Virgin Mother, I will gladly endorse Mr. Vaizey's candidacy the next time he stands. (h/t Joshua Holland)

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