What is Modernism?
All of modern art, and thus modernism (which includes post-modernism, they are the same), is based upon the flimsy concept of being willfully bad, to prove ‘anything is art.’ Even now, it persists, when we have grown accustomed and actually expect our art galleries to be awful and pointless and we go for a bit of a laugh.
Today not just our galleries but every aspect of western society has been poisoned with this relativist dogma. A willful anti-æstheticism is the furtherance of ugliness for it’s own sake. From music, to fashion, to furniture and architecture, we have been tricked into making our world unseemly. Our cityscapes (save for a few untouched historic city centres such as Paris) are a ruinous, mocking tribute to a lack of defining style. They are purposefully disjointed and asymmetric, or woefully boring tower blocks: testimonies of straight lines, undecorated concrete, and plastics. Occasionally where decorative, stylish historic buildings exist they insist upon ruining them with modernist growths (such as the Toronto art gallery). These monolithic monstrosities serve to remind us of the inescapable horror of modernism, as an entity encompassing those values of ugliness and vapidity. No beauty can prevail in the vacuum. No organic shapes, no natural materials, classical motifs, no traditional sculpture, relief, or Euclidean perfection are permitted to exist.
Misshapen and exploitative, we scurry about this landscape of misery feeling deep down we are part of something that has gone wrong, which does not deserve to survive. We escape the confines of drab office cubicles to walk in a courtyard of pointless and garish corporate sculpture. Under the shadow of cheaply made buildings of cyclopean drabness. Unnatural, uninspiring. If in our hearts we come close to the realization that modernism at it’s core is a trick or a joke, we are pushed back into complacency by the all-powerful tyranny of the modern art definition, which hides behind a supposed inclusiveness, where everything is potentially art and every one an artist. Except, again, real art or artists.
And where modern architecture fails to dissuade, we have modern fashion. This incredible bulwark of stupidity and laziness seems to endlessly combine themes of leisure wear and graphic-designed sweatshop fabrics. Gone are the mens suit, leather boots, fine tailored hats and coats, detailed dresses for women, or sartorial standards of any kind. The youth are half naked and in a perpetual cycle of hippy revolution against an unseen sexually conservative oppressor that does not exist. Prevailing cyclical modern themes are garish colors, sweat pants, t-shirts, oft inspired by an endlessly repeating phenomenon of slutty pop stars based upon the model of the careless, free-wheeling whore perpetually giving the finger to a patriarchal history.
All of modernism is a pit, into which beauty must be eradicated. Tragedy must not exist. Art is a kind of self-mocking joke. Judgementalism is the only true crime and is not permitted. The moderns are incapable of seeing that to like something is to pass judgment, and requires the disliking of something else. Perfect egalitarianism does not exist in the universe, and is impossible in the art world, in nature, or in human affairs. The galleries will never again discover genius like Leonardo or Breker so long as they contain trouts nailed to walls and televisions playing static. They exist within that vacuum of intellectual nihilism, from which there is no escape. Perpetually pushing invisible boundaries like hamsters on a wheel.
If, as I believe, we are not actually doomed to this abstraction as part of a long-suffering demise, as Spengler would have us believe, then a revision of style is possible. There are still those that might break through this obscurity, rediscover beauty and the perfection of idea that comes from the mind of a single man, acting on instinct. Cut away the useless fat of a hundred years and start again from where Art Nouveau and to some degree Art Deco left off. But at this late stage it involves a courageous negation of hubris. Those lone warriors must strive for those ideas that can be retrieved from the perpetual wellspring of true creativity, that flowed about the great minds of antiquity like a raging river. Ideas and work that is not abstract or indefinable, but natural, primordial, and the product of intense labor and a devotion to an orderly æsthetic.