Friday, March 24, 2006

Thoughts on being an Iconoclast

A lot of the old family photos have ended up in my hands, so I began scanning them at the highest resolution I could and loaded them onto a Flickr page (see side bar) so that family could see them as well. I also began loading some stuff I had shot, and old resources and research that I had always meant to digitize but had never gotten around to doing. Needless to say, it's become a bit of a monster, with almost 1300 images uploaded in the last two months.

However, it is not without its value.

Flickr has numerous groups focusing on everything from A to Z, including artists. So I began to load low-res versions of some of my paintings, sketches, and step-by-step photos of the painting process, and then posting these to some of the appropriate groups. The response has been very encouraging.

One particular response from a very kind gentleman was this, "Anybody who is an iconoclast can't be all bad."

Looking at the rest of his comments and the time-stamps, I'm not sure if he had time to follow the links to my website and see "Iconoclastic Realism" in the title, or if he chose that word because of the image he was commenting on. Either way, it got me wondering what people think when I say I am an iconoclast?

From a cultural standpoint, the last fifty years have been fraught with change. Virtually every norm, moral, scruple, and standard have been questioned, and a vast number have simply been jettisoned. There is no doubt that my children are growing up in a very different culture than that which my parents knew as children. The slogan "challenge authority" has become the new authority. Speech codes, diversity by enforced quota (not by providing equal opportunity for merit) "fake but accurate," PC religion and the cult of the victim are the moral landscape of today. Common sense, common decency, truthfulness instead of agenda, and personal responsibility are out the window.

Yet when I look at culture, what passes as 'edgy' art is still focused on the same topics as it was in the Sixties. Of course, with the wide changes in our culture the subjects are all now moot, and so artists are left only to try to be more shocking than last year's art. So instead of trying to promise sexual freedom, art now offers sexual degradation and objectification. Instead of trying to promise a new enlightenment by experimenting with religions foreign to our uptight parents, art now assails faith itself. Up rooting the Old was the foundation of the ideals of the Boomer generation. However, up rooting and foundation laying are diametrically opposed. And so the undermining of 'the Establishment' has led to a new Establishment that has no idea what to do next.

Yes, I am an iconoclast. But that may not mean what you think it means, for the icons have changed.

UPDATE, for a look at this subject in action, see Sissy Willis' take on the Whitney Biennial

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