Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Odd artist

One man defies the modernists...


Yes, they're disturbing. But there is something about them. Something that reminds me of all my own darker thoughts about the world. Obviously we see Bosch, Caravaggio, Rembrandt. But as someone said, imagine those painters, instead of looking back at the Christian story, had lived in our time and faced our nihilistic post-Christian future. As though Rembrandt had met our modern apocalypse of despair and lost his faith in both man and God.

His admirers praise him for his superb Old Master technique, while his critics condemn him as hopelessly reactionary.

Sounds like my kind of guy.
The Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum is one of the greatest painters of the century. Unfortunately, according to his detractors, the century in question is the seventeenth. Thus Nerdrum has emerged as one of the most controversial artists of our day.

Nerdrum’s career thus presents a challenge to the modernist establishment that still dominates the international art scene. He refuses to paint like a modernist, but thematically he seems to be responding to a crisis in the modern world; indeed he seems to be coming to grips with the spiritual state of modernity in a way far more profound than that pursued by most modernist painters.
Not that much of a challenge, one would think...

As a result, few contemporary painters have managed to enrage the modernist establishment as much as Nerdrum has. The artists, critics, and curators who comprise the modernist establishment somehow sense that if Nerdrum is right, then they must be wrong.
I wouldn't be so quick to grant them so much intelligence. The logical principle of non-contradiction is the foundation of all rational thought, not a strong suit of theirs.


By returning to the Old Masters, Nerdrum is violating what has come to be the fundamental convention of modernist art. Thumbing his nose at the whole art establishment, Nerdrum used the occasion of a series of exhibitions of his paintings from 1998 to 2000 in Norway to proclaim himself publicly the King of Kitsch...

...One must wonder about the insecurity of modernists who feel it necessary to insist that their art and only their art is “the art of our century” or “the art of the future.” Do the modernists fear the challenge traditional art still represents to the triumph of their own aesthetic?
.

It all sounds just so...ahem...oddly familiar, doesn't it?

Some day I should write a book or something about the connections between the artistic modernist movement and the Catholic modernist movement.



~

6 comments:

Zach said...

You should write that book. I would part with cash for it.


peace,
Zach

Lee said...

Maybe it's the boats floating on a sea of nothing, but I am reminded of Edgar Ende's work.

Fr. Paul McDonald said...

Ah, Hilary, my brother Hugh translated a book like that by the realist, aristoto-thomistic, reactionary philosopher Piotor Jaruzinksi.
The roots of modern art are in false philosophy, perversion, theosophy...

S. Petersen said...

Fine blog. How rare are new facts.

df said...

Creepy vision that man has. I found it rather chilling. Brrrr.

DP said...

I don't know if I find it disturbing (though much of it is) so much as disorienting. Intriguing, that's for sure. And a damn sight better than his critics.