Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Art and Realism

One claim constantly made about artistically inclined people is that they lack realism. My response to that is that reality of human world is what people make of it; and such things are only unrealistic if people choose to make them so.

If something is not in demand, then those who are willing to supply it either go starving or have to do something else. The problem is not with those who are willing to form the supply, but with those who undermine the demand. I se no reason at all why America, with 300 million people and per capita GDP of $50,000 a year, should have less good art than Renaissance Italy, with 3 million people and per capita GDP of $1,500 a year. The problem is not with realism or lack of realism. The problem is one of values. Clearly there have been times in history in which it was completely realistic to produce and distribute art. And the times and places where that was the case are the times and places to which we continue to look back now.

So now we’ve come to a completely ridiculous point: Seeing artistic interest as psychopathology. You might as well say that it’s pathological to want to make money or to worship God. Treating such things as a psychopathology takes more resources than it would take to allow such people to be artists, and it does not produce any kind of benefit.

There have been times in American history when that was not the attitude. In 1920s there was a magnificent artistic blossoming even at the same time as there was a great economic boom. Economic prosperity and artistic blossoming coexisted. They worked together with one another. And it was in this time – one that combined economic prosperity with artistic excellence – that America became the greatest country in the world.

This means the following. Not only is it completely realistic to produce – and consume – art, but doing so is fully consistent with America’s values and America’s greatness. It is not for “snobs” or “liberal elites” or “pretentious Europeans.” It is something that has been done by patriotic Americans at the time that America rose to its greatest glory. It is fully realistic, as well as completely American, to produce and to consume art. The problem is lack of demand. The solution is increasing the demand while also producing supply of good art that people want to buy.


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