Category Archives: modern art

The rot in Paris

Art as a kindergarten activity for adults who want to feel special

Ambling through the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, Dalrymple notices that an exhibition, called Happiness 17, is being staged by students of the National High School of Fine Arts. Hopefully, he drops in; but favourable his impression is not — far from it. He writes:

If anyone should want evidence of the collapse of the Western artistic tradition, he could do worse than to go to the annual exhibition of the graduates of the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris. No city in the world is more saturated with that tradition than Paris, and therefore in no city is the collapse more painfully obvious.

Free of charge, warm and dry it may be, but we will not go in there and be near that rot

Entry to the exhibition is free of charge,

but even so, not many people take the trouble to enter, not even the schizophrenics cared for in the community or homeless Syrian migrant families (actually, mainly Albanians) who hold out paper cups to passers-by for alms.

The ‘art’, Dalrymple says,

is too painful to be endured, even by them; the discomfort of inclement weather is nothing in comparison to that occasioned by the products of modern art teaching and theory.

He points out that

it is not globalisation that has produced this effect upon artistic judgment; the rot is internal to the art world itself, as has been the rot in the humanities departments of our universities.

He points out that

the loss of belief that there is anything sub specie æternitatis has rendered art trivial, no more than a kindergarten activity for adults who want to feel special and whose thirst for self-expression is greater than anything they have to express. Moral and æsthetic capital is not expended all at once, but gradually; it is run down steadily until none remains. As Felicità 17 demonstrates, none remains.


Exposed: the Saatchi trash-art warehouse blaze arsonist

Indicative of deep egotism and irredeemable trashiness of mind

Indicative of deep egotism and irredeemable trashiness of mind

Transgressive art and architecture critic and occasional performance artist Theodore Dalrymple unmasked as Saatchi trash-art warehouse blaze arsonist

Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (Tracey Emin R.A., 1995) has been lost in a warehouse fire along with a large number of other contemporary works owned by Charles Saatchi, the advertising tycoon. The fire, writes Dalrymple,

does not seem to have resulted in any national mourning in England. Indeed, there was speculation that a transgressive art critic, or even performance artist, might have sparked the fire.

Even those

who would normally recoil at the thought of burning a used pulp fiction paperback were not deeply upset.

Sickness of the modern aesthetic

Moseley School of Art, Birmingham. W.H.Bidlake, 1898. Closed 1975, building now owned by the Association  of British Muslims

Moseley School of Art, Balsall Heath, Birmingham. W.H. Bidlake, 1898. Closed 1975, premises owned by the Association of British Muslims

Dalrymple writes that the main purpose of the art schools of the West appears to be

to corrupt youth.

The art schools

imbue their students with the gratifying notion that originality unhindered by the weight or chains of the past is the highest goal at which they can aim, in the achievement of which ignorance will be a positive aid.

This explains why the exhibits in the graduating exhibitions of art schools

resemble the productions of kindergartens. Rare is the talent that can survive an art school education.

One of New York’s premier diving spots

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The diving boards

The new Whitney Museum, writes Dalrymple, is the

perfect place from which to commit suicide, with what look like large diving boards emerging from the top of the building, leading straight to the ground far below. Looking up at them, one can almost hear in one’s mind’s ear the terrible sound of the bodies as they land on the ground below.

There are also, he notes,

The industrial chimneys

The industrial chimneys

some — for now — silvery industrial chimneys, leading presumably from the incinerators so necessary for the disposal of rubbishy art.

He points out that the structure (cost: $422m) illustrates on the one hand the egotism and cack-handedness of the architect Renzo Piano and his kind, and on the other the

complete loss of judgment and taste

The façade, as charming as it is elegant

The torture chambers

of modern patrons.

The façade, which is practically without windows,

looks as if it could be the central torture chambers of the secret police, from which one half expects the screams of the tortured to emerge. Certainly, it is a façade for those with something to hide: perhaps appropriately so, given the state of so much modern art.

HQ of the secret police

Headquarters of the secret police

A monument to the vanity and aesthetic incompetence of celebrity architects

If the building were not

a tragic lost opportunity (how often do architects have the chance to build an art gallery at such cost?), it would be comic. It is as if struck already by an earthquake and in a half-collapsed state. It is a tribute to the imagination of the architect that something so expensive should be made to look so cheap.

A building that would truly have gladdened their hearts

New York at last has a building that would truly have gladdened their hearts