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Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Newsmax Columnist: Non-Reprentational Art That Doesn't Reflect 'Western Heritage' Is 'Bad'
Topic: Newsmax

Earlier this year, WorldNetDaily columnist Jerry Newcombe had a tantrum over art he didn't like. Alexandra York served up her own anti-art-I-don't like rant in an Aug. 29 Newsmax column:

What is "bad" art? In order to answer this question, we must first define what is good art.

Taking this article as a jumping off point, we can understand the values that can be expressed in established western art forms. This is not to infer that eastern art has no value — it most certainly can — but to emphasize how meaningful art in general has the ability to enrich our lives if it is intelligible and communicates life-serving values.

It follows, then, that "bad" art communicates life-harming values. How does it do this? Let us count the ways:

In order to communicate anything the themes or subjects of art forms must be intelligible, so objects rendered in painting and sculpture must be discernable, sounds in music must have tonal development, words in literature must have meaning, and so on.

Splashes of paint on canvas (or worse) and piles of bricks (or worse) communicate nothing intelligible. The same can be said of sounds emitted by the strumming of piano strings which is not music, or the tossing together of useless salad-words which is not literature, so why should these be labeled "bad" art, and why are they "harmful"?

Firstly, non-objective art is not "art" at all. It is not even a valid "craft" like decorative art— tile and rug design, for example — which requires a defined skill set.

But since non-art is presented as art in exhibits, galleries and museums, we need to label it "bad" art because it does not meet the primary criteria of communicative intelligibility.

And lastly, these sorts of "art" presentations are harmful in that — if taken seriously and find acceptance on the part of viewers, listeners, and readers — they can cause sloppy cognitive and psychological habits that, in turn, can inhibit the rational thought processes necessary to live a successful and happily fulfilled life.

In short: abstract art or any other art that is not directly representational is "bad." Shse continued in this vein:

Good art is a perceptually beautiful physical manifestation of life-enriching values, and life-enriching values are selected via reason, and reason entails judgment to determine the validity of values in order to select those that are most beneficial as life-serving principles. Bad art repudiates the very mental processes required to live a fruitful and joyful human life.

Ergo: As we avoid poisoned food to maintain the life and health of our bodies, so we should avoid "art" poisoned by deleterious ideas or lack thereof to enter our minds and pollute our souls.

Good art dramatizes the beauties and complexities of nature and human nature.

It empathizes with our sorrows and celebrates our joys.

It is food for the soul and can nurture our mental wellbeing while, at the same time, confirming our rationally achieved value system and inspiring us onward and upward to the best within us.

Not only is bad art bad for us in the cognitive and psychological ways heretofore delineated, but legitimatizing any so-called "art" that degrades the splendors and the possibilities of humankind becomes an act of spiritual suicide.

The "article" York referred to early was actually her own 2018 Newsmax column in which she explicitly argued that the only"good" art is that which is explictly representational and advances "Western heritage":

Driven underground by academics, critics, and artists of modernist and post-modern art for decades and largely still untaught in learning institutions, the crafts of representationalism in painting and sculpture have continued to be taught by a handful of artist-teachers who refused to let their art forms perish. We owe these men and women — now in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties — a debt of gratitude for safeguarding the techniques passed down from Greece through the Italian Renaissance to nineteenth-century Europe and then on to America in the early twentieth. It is their students — now professional artists and teachers in their own right — who are presently of an age to lead the resurgence of interest in these art forms based in established Western art traditions. Novelists, poets, and composers, too, are consulting the past for techniques to help them contemporize the everlasting verities of life with bracing relevance to our own time and place in history.

So the crafts of the great arts of Western civilization are surfacing again. But what of ideas? Many artists, today, succeed in capturing reality, but how many create a heightened reality that not only brings into sharper focus selected aspects of life through compelling aesthetics but also communicates ideas? Without authentic relevance to the fundamentals of the contemporary human condition, art becomes either decorative or banal. Without ideas informing it, art becomes a pretty pastime.

Most artists are not philosophers; they are, rather, more sensitive souls who intuitively incorporate value premises into their work. Great artists, however, whose work reverberates with lasting significance are fully conscious of the underlying themes expressed through their work; they, in fact, use form and aesthetics for the express purpose of communicating — beautifully — the ideational content of their art. For these superlative artists, nothing is accidental; they select and include in their art only the requisite essentials necessary to communicate inner meaning. Such artists distill the quintessence of one image or one fleeting moment (or in literature and music, one finite time-experience) for their own sake first; they make it “stand still” so they can experience and return at will to the burning center of their creation for rousing renewal. Then they pass their vision on to us for further contemplation of the beauty and values inherent in the work.


A landscape painting made of morning light arching into the colors of a rainbow that hovers over an apple-green orchard may guide our vision the next time we tarry in the countryside. A flower painting of scintillating colors and luscious textures can whet our senses to appreciate the fragility and translucent wonder of petals soft and fragrant, not to mention give us pause to consider the transience of all life, including our own. A depiction of a hero or heroine can encourage us to rise to our own best self. 

York did acknowledge that "A nude male or female sculpture can cause us to marvel at the inherent splendor of the human body — the temple of our soul," so apparently she's not a total prude.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:23 PM EDT

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