"What Good Are the Arts?" is an intensely argued polemic against the intellectually supercilious, the snooty rich and the worship of high culture as a secular religion for the spiritually refined and socially heartless. Modern art," writes James Carey, "has become synonymous with money, fashion, celebrity and sensationalism, at any rate in the mind of the man on the Clapham omnibus." Contemporary painting, opera, ballet, most poetry and theater are all removed from the life of ordinary people, being part of a cult available largely to the wealthy and mandarin, where only the elect may worship. Meanwhile, "mass art" -- daytime drama, pop music, Hollywood filmmaking -- is commonly dismissed as mere entertainment for shallow and stupid proles. Washington Post01/29/06
I have conflicting feelings about the premise of this book. While I agree that art has to be accessible, I stop short of believing it has to be "dumbed-down". I have enough life-experience to back-up my belief that people will (as a whole) only succeed to the level of another's expectations. That is true in business and education - therefore I believe it is also true in one's willingness to understand art. If you take the time to make your art accessible through explanation and exposure, mass intellectual understanding will follow.
This ties-in pretty well with my last post, because James Carey's book "allows" for bad popular culture as an artform - it seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the snobbish elitism he finds distasteful. While I agree it is a trend bordering on (bad) art, I disagree that this is the best way to reach the masses.
Similarly, while Bush's "No Child Left Behind" is an utter failure. I believe it is a failure due to the fact that it wants everyone to go slower inorder to be on the same page, intellectually. I propose a "No Patron Left Behind" attitude by contemporary artists. Rather than slowing everyone down to grasp an art movement like "clichéd cowboy realism" - the artists can educate (up) and enlighten to the multi-layered messages of their more contemporary works. - DN