Page 17 - Studio International - September 1967
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respectable, reconciled. The alienation   `Apparently they didn't hate that enough   Another is that England's wealthy Jews,
           persists. Only, the conflict has a different   either.' There is very little contemporary   when not totally Philistine, prefer to form
           form. Traditionally the avant-gardist had a   art of any consequence that doesn't risk   collections which look as if they had been
           masochistic relation to the bourgeois: he   being hateful or despicable, from the   in the family for two hundred years.
           was despised and rejected, the object of   embarrassing softness of Oldenburg to the   Another reason, I suspect, is our passion
           sneers and derision, a martyr, and the   overblown banality of Morris to the       for gardening, for this, it seems to me,
           arrows of his outrageous gestures against   remorseless tedium of Warhol's films.   uses up the same kind of energy as goes
           society hurt the bourgeoisie no more than   The fact that acceptance of the new comes   into art-collecting. It is possibly the more
           the arrows of the Lilliputians hurt Gulliver,   much faster than it did fifty years ago is   honourable obsession of the two, is certainly
           no more than the angry infant's punch or   immaterial. At the time the thing is    at least as creative. But it does leave our
           slap hurts its complacent parent. Today it's   done the risk of ridicule is still very real.   artists working in something of a void.
           the avant-gardist who has the whip hand.   And though it's become smart to say that   They may sell prodigiously to collectors
           The bourgeois becomes the permissive     ridicule is defunct, this is not entirely the   abroad, they may sell the odd work to
           parent, the artist the child who sees how   case. Even in New York, as well as poor old   museums at home but they don't get the
           far he can go.                           swinging London, John Cage's performances   satisfaction and stimulus of knowing that
            For one thing, most collectors nowadays   can still provoke reactions that call to mind   in the society they belong to there are
           live in flats with limited wall space and low   the classic stories of the Banquet Years. It   people who care to live with their work.
           ceilings. Yet painters and sculptors work on   is true that the public is not as    Given this situation, and given the fairly
           a bigger and bigger scale. They defy the   complacent as it was, true that it      generous funds which the public sector
           collector to buy these impossible objects,   welcomes the idea of novelty and shock.   provides in one way or another for the
           and if he does buy he is bullied by their   But the shock when it comes still does shock.   visual arts, it seems to me that the best way
           overweening presence in his rooms. These   The innovations of a Cage or a Warhol, a   we can make amends is to spend a higher
           objects don't fit in politely among the   Johns, a Morris, an Oldenburg, so far    proportion of those funds than we do now
           furniture; they cannot be ignored, they   from being mildly titillating eccentricities,   on purchasing the work of living British
           dominate the place. In a society as affluent   demand a generosity of response that   artists. Obviously, there are many
           as the United States, the artist knows that   still can't be taken for granted: they really   worthwhile channels: exhibitions,
           the money that the collector pays for his   do make demands, sometimes for the sake   publications, lectures, art schools (and,
           works is no great sacrifice. He finds other   of doing so.                         after all, their purpose is as much to
           currencies in which to make the bourgeois   The kind of relationship that exists   support teachers as to train students). But
           suffer for his love.                     between artist and patron now in America   the best way of all to help artists—when
            Extreme size is one of these currencies,   may not be an ideal one, but it is viable, it   art is a going concern, as it is in this country
           extreme style is the other. Hence Pop Art.   is stimulating. It has some bearing, I believe,  today—is to buy their work and put it
           Roy Lichtenstein once said: 'It was hard to   on that quality in the best contemporary   where it's seen. In practice this means, for
           get a painting that was despicable enough   Americans which tends to be lacking in   example, that the Arts Council might
           so that no one would hang it—everybody   artists elsewhere today—their readiness to be   spend more of its budget on its collections
           was hanging everything. It was almost    single-minded, uncompromising, not to     and also that it might stop presenting
           acceptable to hang a dripping paint rag,   hedge their bets.                       sabbatical awards to artists and only
           everybody was accustomed to this. The one   In England there are no private patrons of   give them something when it wants to
           thing everybody hated was commercial art.'   new art: to be precise there are about two.   pay them the compliment of asking
           And he had to conclude his statement:    One obvious reason is that we're poorer.    for their work in return.

            Jack Hillier is an Orientalist whose field is Japanese   Clement Greenberg  has contributed to  Art News,   We regret that an article by Charles S. Spencer on art
            art, in particular the printed art book and broadsheet   Horizon, Art International and other journals and has   in Israel has had to be held over due to lack of space.
            form. His most recent book is Hokusai's Drawings,   published, among others, books on Miró and Matisse.
            published by Phaidon Press, London, last year.   He has also exhibited at the Stable Gallery, New
                                                     York. His essay on Anthony Caro was first published
            Douglas Hall is keeper of the Scottish National Gallery   in the catalogue to the Anthony Caro exhibition at
            of Modern Art. He studied at the Courtauld Institute.   the Rijksmuseum Kroner-Muller earlier this year.
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