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Don't react, it only encourages them

August 23rd, 2002

Bright Cold Day  links to this version of the archetypal modern art hoax story. You can read my take on this, first published in 1999, here

A short sample, with an apposite link I just found:

It is still possible to outrage US Senators and New York City Mayors with such ‘artworks’ as chocolate-smeared performance artists and Madonnas rendered in elephant dung, especially when their production and exhibition is paid for by taxpayers. But for the mass public, the game of epater le bourgeois (shocking the middle class) has been played out. Hardly anyone nowadays is really shocked by anything as petty as modern art. Rather, most people accept incomprehensible, trivial and ‘confrontational’ art as one of the facts of modern life, much like the operations of financial markets. Just as with markets in financial derivatives, they give their passive assent to the experts who assure them that modern art is a Good Thing, while retaining an underlying conviction that it is really a gigantic con game. Stories of paintings by ducks or monkeys being hailed as masterpieces are standard filler items in the tabloid press, greeted with the same mild schadenfreude as exposures of failed financial manipulations.

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