February 27, 2019

DISPATCHES FROM THE MUSEUM OF MODERN DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT:

● Shot:

All these years, along with countless kindred souls, I am certain, I had made my way into the galleries of Upper Madison and Lower Soho and the Art Gildo Midway of Fifty-seventh Street, and into the museums, into the Modern, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim, the Bastard Bauhaus, the New Brutalist, and the Fountainhead Baroque, into the lowliest storefront churches and grandest Robber Baronial temples of Modernism. All these years I, like so many others, had stood in front of a thousand, two thousand, God-knows-how-many thousand Pollocks, de Koonings, Newmans, Nolands, Rothkos, Rauschenbergs, Judds, Johnses, Olitskis, Louises, Stills, Franz Klines, Frankenthalers, Kellys, and Frank Stellas, now squinting, now popping the eye sockets open, now drawing back, now moving closer — waiting, waiting, forever waiting for … it… for it to come into focus, namely, the visual reward (for so much effort) which must be there, which everyone (tout le monde) knew to be there— waiting for something to radiate directly from the paintings on these invariably pure white walls, in this room, in this moment, into my own optic chiasma. All these years, in short, I had assumed that in art, if nowhere else, seeing is believing. Well — how very shortsighted! Now, at last, on April 28, 1974, I could see. I had gotten it backward all along. Not “seeing is believing,” you ninny, but “believing is seeing,” for Modern Art has become completely literary: the paintings and other works exist only to illustrate the text.

 —Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word, 1975.

● Chaser:

Do bear these things in mind as you thrill to the video embedded below, in which Ms Tsoli unleashes a fearless, selfless and terribly radical “intervention” at a crossing on Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Said intervention, titled Attempting to Reach Equilibrium in Times of Dystopia, is of course crammed with aesthetic value. A particular highlight occurs around 2:30 when a passing police car stops, resulting in a need to explain that what is happening is actually art.

—David Thompson, “The Dunning-Kruger Diaries, Part Two,” yesterday.

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