Do you remember when art was pretty?
When it was beautiful, inspiring, dignified and pure?
Do you remember those days?
Probably not. For the last half century, art has, in its various forms, taken a turn for the worse. It has been chaotic, hurtful and assaulting.
In short, it has not been art.
It has been, in part, an attack on the greatness of the past and a fraud, an attempt to con patrons and the public into paying for and worshiping the aesthetic tantrums of self-important fakes.
It is not like the art we studied.
Though most of us are not experts, or necessarily even fans, we can clearly see the beauty and refinement of centuries of genuine art. Whether it is a sculpture or a painting or a musical composition, the great art of the past has been stunning for its beauty.
There is a certain uplifting goodness to it.
From architecture to opera, the impulse to create beauty left us with a heritage of touching, ennobling works.
Works which today's so-called artists couldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. Chaos and disorder, odd and meaningless abstractions, have come to dominate virtually all forms, rendering them ugly and useless. In a century or two, when they look back at the art of this era, they will laugh.
And we should mourn.
Because art is an aid and comfort, an expression of the purity and power that are inherent in the human soul. There is something divine about real art. God created beauty, and sometimes humankind does as well, in notes on paper, or in paints on canvas.
But the totalitarian conformity of today's “art” knows nothing of God or beauty. Whereas artists of old found inspiration in the lives of regular people, the artists of today hate regular people. So much of what they do is, aesthetically, nothing but an extended middle finger at the values, mores and lives of regular people.
Fattened by grants, with no accountability or critics, they foist ever-more obnoxious pieces of crap on the public.
From symphonies that are discordant annoyances to buildings that are little more than a pile of children's building blocks. The paintings are of nothing recognizable and the sculpture is defined by the embarrassing scrap heaps thrown up in front of federal buildings and corporate headquarters and labeled “public art.”
Odd quadrangles of colored glass, thrown together in haphazard expression, hang in and despoil hospital lobbies.
The failure of this artistic era is demonstrated by the fact that its product is shunned by the popular culture, it is rejected by the people of this time and place. Mozart and Bach are played daily, prints of the old masters sell well and hang in many homes, statues around the house are usually reproductions of works centuries old, the treasured architecture is the old architecture.
In his day, people thrilled to Mozart. For 20 years, America literature meant Ernest Hemingway. Great statuary for decades was men on horseback or soldiers in the town square. The paintings of the Wyeths and Whistler – and Norman Rockwell – were embraced by the generation in which they were produced.
But this generation's artists, estranged from the rest of society, arrogantly condemn that society instead of seeing the failing as their own.
We live in an artless era, when the strivings and ambitions and experiences of our lives and society go uncaptured on canvas or in stone. The great media of art – literature, orchestral music, painting, sculpting, architecture – lie cold and unused, as to practical and purposeful creations. We are neither inspired nor reflected by our art, and it is consequently not art.
Because it is ugly, and it doesn't even do ugly well. It is a grotesque static, a grating white noise turned up far louder than it has any need to be, presuming for itself a relevance far out of proportion to its worth.
Art used to be pretty.
And someday it will be again.
But today it is a disgrace.