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Old 26th January 2006   #1
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default "An anonymous modern ghost"

The point has often been made on this forum that the "death aesthetic" of the modern fashion/media world parallels the displacement of traditional representational art by modernist abstraction, which took place in the 20th century.

I've never seen this point better confirmed than in a new book called A Critical History of 20th-Century Art. A longish excerpt is available online, at the following link:

It's pretty tedious -- because modern art itself is so tedious, but here's the pertinent section. (Yes, I've learned how to indent on this forum):

"Picasso’s Cubism is especially evident in his brutal dismissal of woman’s reality, which seems paranoid in import. The development from the Head of Fernande and Woman with Pears (Fernande) (1909) to Young Woman and Nude Woman (both 1910), traces the erosion of woman’s appearance. She becomes completely unrecognizable, indeed, barely a figure -- nothing but an agglomeration of abstract forms. It is not clear that they signify her; their significance seems to lie entirely in themselves. Her curves have become straight lines in Nude Woman -- a token few are left over, untransformed but isolated in space. Her body has been deconstructed, as it were -- "de-represented," I would prefer to say -- and its parts disposed of.

"She has, in fact, become disembodied, not to say disemboweled. Indeed, her eros has been erased. There is no longer woman’s libidinous presence, but her ironical absence. She has in effect been liquidated -- burned at an artistic stake. Where there was once woman there are now esthetic ashes, esthetic relics -- a residue of abstract forms. She has been completely undone, although her being survives nominally -- that is, in the title of the painting. And perhaps as a "metaphysical" principle, having lost all her voluptuous physicality. The traditional nude has been dismantled into an anonymous modern ghost."

This description of Picasso's art is identical to what the modern media has done to women's bodies, in replacing the well-fed, voluptuous, timeless ideal with the "anonymous modern ghosts" that we see in film and TV today.

Isn't this exactly what the media gives us: a "brutal dismissal of woman’s reality," an "erosion of woman’s appearance," models/actresses who have "barely a figure -- nothing but an agglomeration of abstract forms," whose "curves have become straight lines," all "deconstructed," "disembodied," "disemboweled"?

And isn't that what the media advocates, that a woman "having lost all her voluptuous physicality" is supposed to feel some kind of accomplishment? That she is supposed to make herself "erased," to ensure her own "absence" through self-imposed starvation?

Whatever the connection between Picasso's aesthetics and his ideology (he was a lifelong communist), I think the similarity between the agenda of his modernist art form, and the thin-supremacist media standards that originated in his day and have been perpetuated right up until the present, is hardly a coincidence.
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Old 31st January 2006   #2
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: "An anonymous modern ghost"

That remarkably accurate description of Picasso's work is also a powerful condemnation of modern art. And the parallel between Picasso's brutal attack on the female form, and the rise of the anti-feminine, size-0 model, is not coincidental at all.

Both phenomena represent the damage that materialist/utilitarian ideologies have inflicted on the human consciousness for nearly a century, as part of a concerted effort to level humanity to its lowest common denominator.

These ideologies deny humanity's essential nature, and seek to reshape men and women, both physically and psychologically; to remold them into something that they are not--and were never meant to be.

Just as both Picasso and the fashion world carve away any trace of womanliness in the female figure, so do modern ideologies perform a veritable lobotomy on the human mind. In the name of "social justice" (which is the opposite of true justice), these ideologies slice away cultural memory, cut off natural desires, suck out human imagination, slash away dreams and romance, and leave nothing behind but empty, shell-like individuals reduced to "abstract forms," thinking nothing but material, utilitarian thoughts.

* * *

In Tom Wolfe's scathing exposé of 20th-century art titled The Painted Word, the author reveals that flatness is the underlying principle of all modernist art (just as it is the fundamental principle of straight-size fashion), and that a reflexive impulse to destroy Classical beauty, and the values that it represents, is the overriding imperative of the contemporary art establishment.

Wolfe also suggests that future generations, looking back upon the 20th century (now extending into the 21st), will despair that

on the one hand, the scientists of the mid-twentieth century proceeded by building upon the discoveries of their predecessors and thereby lit up the sky . . . while the artists proceeded by averting their eyes from whatever their predecessors, from da Vinci on, had discovered, shrinking from it, terrified.

And "terrified" these artists should be, because the superiority of the Western tradition over their own puerile works shames them so much, that they need to suppress it, by any means at their disposal. They dare not allow the public to encounter any alternative to modern art, because if this were to happen, they would choose the alternative, every time.

Similarly, the media suppresses timeless beauty because it knows that if full-figured femininity was ever presented in a favourable way, the public would embrace it (as it did throughout history), and wholeheartedly reject the androgynous standard--along with its political implications. A Victorian Vogue would efface the current Vogue as surely as a present-day Romanticism would obliterate modernism entirely--which is why plus-size magazines and Romantic art are universally suppressed.

It is analagous to the predicament of a mousy waif, who prevents her boyfriend from ever seeing her more voluptuous sister, knowing that if he were ever to lay eyes on her fuller-figured sibling, he would instantly forsake the one for the other.

But today, at last, the hegemony of the modernist ideologues is beginning to crumble. Just as Web sites such as the Art Renewal Center are reviving an appreciation for the legacy of Western art, so is the public catching fleeting glimpses of Classical beauty, in the form of living plus-size goddesses, and rediscovering the true femininity that they represent. And whether in the form of films, or magazines, or both, once society is fully exposed to the timeless ideal, it will eagerly embrace it, and forsake the degeneracy of the past century.

Rubens, Susannah and the Elders (1608):

- Esssay at the Art Renewal Center

Last edited by HSG : 25th September 2006 at 00:22.
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Old 1st February 2006   #3
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Default Re: "An anonymous modern ghost"

I think you've really hit the nail on the head about abstract, modern art. I also checked the link for art renewal. Just fantastic! However, I think perhaps it bears mentioning that in addition to the rise of the abstract in modern aesthetic tastes, which is highly political, that feminism (also a political movement) bears a LOT of responsibility for allowing postmodern aesthetics to supplant biologically-programmed preferences for rounder women. I am sure there have been tendencies towards the abstract that have tried to creep into the realm of feminine beauty for some time. However, my suspicion is that as women have attempted to ERASE gender differences (with the ubiquitous dialogue on how men and women are the same), they have also attempted to remove the secondary sex characteristics, resenting these attributes because they invite the male gaze. This has allowed a wide open space for postmodern aesthetics to take hold and shape public perceptions of feminine beauty and, indeed, femininity itself. This trend has turned biology on its head and is about as far away from pleasure, fertility and humanity as one can possibly get. In my opinion, women hating their bodies for inherently feminine characteristics is in itself the type of slavery and subjugation that feminism purports to rectify.
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