"Why Art Became Ugly" turned 10 years old a couple of months ago. I revisited this essay today, and was struck by how neatly the author describes a certain aspect of modern art, which he calls reductionism:
"If we are uncomfortable with the idea that art or any discipline can tell us the truth about external, objective reality, then we will retreat from any sort of content and focus solely on art's uniqueness. And if we are concerned with what is unique in art, then each artistic medium is different. For example, what distinguishes painting from literature? Literature tells stories—so painting should not pretend to be literature; instead it should focus on its own uniqueness. The truth about painting is that it is a two-dimensional surface with paint on it. So instead of telling stories, the reductionist movement in painting asserts, to find the truth of painting painters must deliberately eliminate whatever can be eliminated from painting and see what survives. Then we will know the essence of painting."
Instead of inspiration or merriment,
art becomes a failed experiment.