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One myth of modern art is that it began like a prophet in the desert,

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the avant-garde, the rejected outsider armed with truth.

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Today, that myth is lost.

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At the start of the '70s, the idea of an avant-garde in painting and sculpture was
winding down.

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It's now over, part of a period style.

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In the meantime, modernism itself has become our official culture.

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This is not a building. It's a sculpture.

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Not finished yet, but one of the largest of the 20th century

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and a long way from the art world.

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This valley is in the Nevada Desert, 5,500 feet up

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and four hours' hard drive over bared roads from Las Vegas.

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It's also on the edge of the Nuclear Proving Grounds.

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The artist, Michael Heizer, is an American.

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The piece is called Complex One. He started it in 1972.

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40 metres long, 33 wide and seven high.

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A colossal task.

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At the most, a couple of dozen strangers see it in a year,

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so it has a smaller audience than Cubism did 70 years ago.

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It can never be moved, no museum will ever take it in

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and reproduction gives no real idea of it.

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We are at the end of modernity, and modern art has found its mass audience.

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So one of the last acts of modernism was, so to speak, to return to the desert

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and to retreat from those who wanted to smother it with love,

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and discover in physical isolation the kind of parallel and equivalent

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to the cultural isolation that was the fate of the original avant-garde.

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- Sure. I invented that idea...
- 'Michael Heizer.'

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The idea that there are no values attached to something like this

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because it's not portable and not a malleable barter exchange object.

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And that says it. You can't trade this thing.
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You can't put it in your pocket.

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If you have a war, you can't move it around. It's not worth anything. In fact, it's
an obligation.

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The theory is that art and land

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are the things that have the greatest value.

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Here you have both art and land, if either is usable,

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and neither are worth very much.

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I think all large sculptures have been technically difficult

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for all people who ever built them.

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I think that I haven't tried to surpass that scale.

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I simply tried to keep pace with it, and it's a historical scale.

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I think that it's normal and natural

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to build a sculpture of this measurement at this time.

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Why make such things?

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Why spend so long constructing something so big and hard to get to?

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Partly to change a work's relation to the art world as a system,

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to get it out of the stream of opinion about art

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and the stream of official culture and money exchange.

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Isolation is the essence of land art.

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Remoteness gives all efforts to see it the character of a pilgrimage.

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Going to it, you have in a sense said yes to it before you see it,

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and given more time to it than most would give to looking at a sculpture in a
museum.

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But the idea that a museum would even bother with advanced art is a fairly new one.

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The notion that it could become the place

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where modernist credentials would be sealed and stamped is even newer.

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This was largely an American invention.

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One of the illusions of the 19th century at the start of the museum age in America

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was the idea that art morally improved you.

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I think that I can testify that it does not.

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Nevertheless, the idea of social improvement through art
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struck a responsive chord in the American rich who now began to spend

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hundreds of millions of dollars on the setting up, the building and endowment of
museums.

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It may be that some of them felt, on a quite deep level, that this was tantamount
to a religious act.

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And they all knew it was tax deductible.

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God loveth the cheerful giver,

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and the donors had every reason to feel cheerful.

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The earlier American robber barons - Morgan,

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Frick, Carnegie - could amass monuments to themselves,

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monuments of past art housed in neo-renaissance palaces.

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But the great change came in 1929,

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when the Museum of Modern Art was founded in New York.

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Today, it seems such a natural title.

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Then, it seemed very odd indeed.

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Wasn't the avant-garde against museums on principle?

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Hadn't the futurists wanted to burn them down?

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No European museum was trying to collect modern art in a systematic way.

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The idea of doing so was largely the work of Alfred Barr,

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who persuaded a growing circle of millionaires,

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seated on the Rockefeller family,

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to underwrite a museum that would treat modernism as a historical fact, the culture
of their time.

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Its present senior curator, William Reuben, recalls the policy.

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I think Alfred Barr's aims were first to make a synoptic collection of modern art.

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That is to say, to show all schools from all nations,

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as opposed, let us say, to the groups of modern art that one found in European
museums,

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which were heavily weighed towards the nation in which the museums were located.

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To try to balance these according to what he saw as their quality and importance,

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rather than their provenance.

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This meant, also, not following any particular line -

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that is, toward abstraction or not abstraction or whatever.

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Nevertheless, I think it would be fair to say

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that there was a sense of avant-gardism that lay behind this,

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a force that led to radical painting

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being more prized than, let us say, conservative realistic paintings

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of a type that the public was more familiar with.

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By 1950, the MoMA, as New Yorkers call it with a sort of Oedipal affection,

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had put together a collection of 20th-century art that no European museum could
rival.

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It didn't take sides.

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All rivalries and differences of ideological splits were recorded on the museum
walls

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not in a partisan spirit, but as cultural facts.

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The museum wanted everything and its opposite.

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It defused the tensions of all moments

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by rendering them historical.

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From now on, modernism would tend to seem noble and exemplary,
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rather than tense and controversial.

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So now the metaphors of temple and treasure house,

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once the property of museums of traditional art,

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could apply to modernity, too.

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Scores of new museums were built in America in the '60s.

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Most of them looked like fortresses, culture bunkers

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radiating an image of vast security.

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This one, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington is, in effect,

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the set for The Guns Of Navarone without the guns.

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But the climax of the trend happened just across the street.

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The National Gallery in Washington had been built and paid for

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by one of America's older mercantile princes, Andrew Mellon, in 1941.

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Several decades later, his descendants and their foundation,

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laid out close to 100 million to construct this new East Building.

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Its main feature was this enormous nave.

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People could enjoy the sensation of being in the church of art

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without actually being obliged to pray.

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If ever a museum set up a building whose main function

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was to praise its own stature as an institution, this was it.

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The galleries themselves were relegated to the corners.

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The cost of this remarkable essay in museological splendour

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was a third of the price of a nuclear submarine,

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which puts it in one perspective.

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On the other hand, it was about twice the Gross National Product of some African
states,

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which may put it in another.

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This may be pondered by anyone

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who does not think modernism is our official culture.

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The result of such expansions is to turn the museum

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from a sort of articulated tomb into a low-rating mass medium.
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BRASS BAND PLAYS

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APPLAUSE

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We have before us here,

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in concrete, marble and glass,

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a tangible demonstration that excellence

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and access to a wide public

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are far from being contradictory.

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They are complementary.

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This building stands as a metaphor for what, at its best,

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the relationship between Government and the arts can be.

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Meanwhile, the interlock between new art, capital, real estate,

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education, displaced piety and show biz has gathered enough power

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to transform whole neighbourhoods outside the museum.

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# I'm in with the "In" crowd

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# I go where the "In" crowd goes
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# I'm in with the "In" crowd

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# And I know what the "In" crowd knows

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# Any time of the year, don't you hear how to have fun... #

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When I came to New York to live in 1970,

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I moved into a downtown industrial district

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which, because it was south of Houston Street, was christened SoHo.

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In those days, there were two art galleries in SoHo.

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There were two Italian bars, no restaurants,

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no tourists and quite a lot of peace and quiet.

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Today, nine years later, there are 75 galleries, at last count,

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dozens of restaurants and bars, and on weekends,

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when the peering hordes of dentists from New Jersey

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come down here to take their Gucci loafers for a walk among the bubble top buses,

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there is very little peace and quiet indeed.

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# ..We've got our own way of walkin'

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# We've got our own way of talkin'

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# Any time of the year, don't you hear

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# Gotta have fun

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# Spendin' cash, talkin' trash

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# Girl, I'll show you a real good time

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# Come on with me and leave your troubles behind

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# I don't care where you've been

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# You ain't been nowhere till you've been "In"... #

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Such are the healing and transforming powers of art.

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In the 19th century, artists used to live in "bohemias",

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which were interesting but not chic.

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Today, they make places chic by moving in, at least for a short time,

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until the landlords raise the rent and boot them out so they have to go somewhere
else.

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This process is known as urban renewal.
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The SoHo recipe of the art colony as a huge boutique,

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post-modernism and designer jeans, happened to other places,

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like this part of Paris around Les Halles.

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It was bulldozed flat in the 1970s to make room for a development

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whose core was the Pompidou Centre.

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The Centre opened in 1977.

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If the monument of the start of modernism was the Eiffel Tower,

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this is the one at its end.

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A palace of French centralisation,

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a cross between a prison and a construction toy.

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It's a very metaphorical building.

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Although the pipes and ventilators stop practically all natural light from getting
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quite a trick in a metal and glass structure -

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they suggest industrial process, like an oil refinery.

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In the 1920s, Russian constructivist architects

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designed palaces of culture which were never built.

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This Marxist ideal of the museum as a social condenser

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was only translated into fact in capitalist Paris 60 years later.

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For blocks around, the quarter has been gutted and remade

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in the French version of the SoHo mix, full of little galleries

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selling little art and neat studio apartments for young trendies.

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Where the belly of Paris used to be, culture gulch now stands.

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APPLAUSE

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If anyone had suggested 30 years ago that the fallout from modern art

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would produce such mutations, nobody would have believed it.

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This is what happens when big concentrations of social interests

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decide to use modern art as their aiming point.

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The irony is that the institutional triumph of the new

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happens just when the old social uses of art,

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whose residue gave the idea of the avant-garde its meaning,

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have almost withered away.

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PERFORMER ANNOUNCES IN FRENCH

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In the 15th century, one of these uses was to inform and to explain.

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Where did you get information about the world and how to live in it?

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Well, not from magazines or newspapers. They didn't exist.

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Not from books, either, because in the 15th century

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the idea of mass printing was hardly even an idea.

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500 years ago, you and I probably would have been illiterate.

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This left two other channels of information.

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One was the spoken word.

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That included everything from village gossip to the high rhetoric of the altar and
pulpit.

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The other one was visual images - painting and sculpture.

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Of these, painting was the more eloquent,

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with its much greater power of visual illusion
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and its adaptability to almost any given surface.

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This chapel in the church of San Clemente in Rome

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was painted by an artist named Masolino da Panicale.

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500 years later, we can look at his work with a tourist's eye or with an art
historian's.

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The one thing we cannot do is see it with the eye of his own audience.

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Because that eye supposed, as our culture no longer does,

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that painting was one of the primary dominant forms of public speech.

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Painting explains and describes - and here it describes a legend.

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The task of painting was to make it vivid and tangible and credible,

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to insert the legend into the life of people who gathered here

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so that it would strengthen their faith and alter their beliefs,

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and so compel behaviour.

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That, as I understand it, is what public art fundamentally

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has always been about.

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But today we have no credible public art

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because other media have taken its old power away.

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Throughout its history, up to the end of the 19th century,

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art kept this didactic purpose.

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It showed people what to worship, what to pray to,

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whom to believe, what values to adopt.

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It was the main generator of social symbols.

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Today, the whole issue of the use of public art is in question.

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Most of the time, our ancestors assumed it was the main purpose of painting.

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00:17:47,760 --> 00:17:51,480
The object could be tiny and precious, like a religious icon.

243
00:17:51,480 --> 00:17:54,320
Or it could be as big as David's Oath of the Horatii,

244
00:17:54,320 --> 00:17:56,360
which was a political item

245
00:17:56,360 --> 00:18:00,840
made to teach republican virtue to the French.

246
00:18:00,840 --> 00:18:03,800
We know that art is about pleasure, too.

247
00:18:03,800 --> 00:18:05,840
And fear.
248
00:18:07,480 --> 00:18:10,960
And tranquil meditation beyond politics.

249
00:18:10,960 --> 00:18:15,560
And a host of things as wide as the range of human feeling itself.

250
00:18:18,320 --> 00:18:22,520
But up to the end of the 19th century, the importance of art

251
00:18:22,520 --> 00:18:27,320
was usually bound up with its role as public discourse.

252
00:18:27,320 --> 00:18:30,720
Without that role, there would have been no avant-garde,

253
00:18:30,720 --> 00:18:33,320
because if art doesn't embody values,

254
00:18:33,320 --> 00:18:35,600
it can't act as a conscience.

255
00:18:35,600 --> 00:18:38,440
That was what the avant-garde set out to be

256
00:18:38,440 --> 00:18:41,200
when it made its debut in the mid 19th-century -

257
00:18:41,200 --> 00:18:43,240
the conscience of a class,

258
00:18:43,240 --> 00:18:47,000
its traditional enemy and chief patron, the bourgeoisie.

259
00:18:47,000 --> 00:18:51,640
What made the avant-garde possible in France, where it was born,

260
00:18:51,640 --> 00:18:53,680
was the salon system.

261
00:18:58,520 --> 00:19:03,160
Instead of a circle of artists trying to get work from one prince or bishop,

262
00:19:03,160 --> 00:19:06,320
you had hundreds, even thousands, of easel paintings
263
00:19:06,320 --> 00:19:10,160
competing for the attention of thousands of middle-class people.

264
00:19:10,160 --> 00:19:12,200
It was more like a bazaar than a court,

265
00:19:12,200 --> 00:19:17,440
and it gave more room for invention and scandal and liberty.

266
00:19:17,440 --> 00:19:19,560
Anyone could send a picture in,

267
00:19:19,560 --> 00:19:22,800
though there was no guarantee that it would be hung.

268
00:19:22,800 --> 00:19:24,840
The salon was the theatre

269
00:19:24,840 --> 00:19:28,520
in which the drama of offending the bourgeois was played out.

270
00:19:28,520 --> 00:19:32,040
Hilton Kramer, art critic of the New York Times.

271
00:19:32,040 --> 00:19:37,480
The relationship of the avant-garde to the middle class is enormously complicated

272
00:19:37,480 --> 00:19:45,320
because it, like everything else in modern culture, was so changeable.

273
00:19:45,320 --> 00:19:50,320
Er... The initial collision, the initial challenge,

274
00:19:50,320 --> 00:19:55,400
always, within a single generation, was resolved into an embrace.

275
00:19:55,400 --> 00:20:01,720
What was established taste for the bourgeoisie in one generation

276
00:20:01,720 --> 00:20:04,240
was abandoned in the subsequent generation

277
00:20:04,240 --> 00:20:08,560
for the taste of what had been conceived to be avant-garde.

278
00:20:08,560 --> 00:20:13,760
It's a great misunderstanding of the history book of 19th-century culture

279
00:20:13,760 --> 00:20:16,120
and of our own in the 20th century

280
00:20:16,120 --> 00:20:19,400
to hold on to the notion of the avant-garde

281
00:20:19,400 --> 00:20:22,600
as sort of permanent cultural guerillas

282
00:20:22,600 --> 00:20:29,040
making their forays into, er... middle-class wealth.

283
00:20:29,040 --> 00:20:34,080
They actually were more like family,

284
00:20:34,080 --> 00:20:38,760
in which there were conflicts of generations.

285
00:20:38,760 --> 00:20:43,280
And in the end, as often happens in families,

286
00:20:43,280 --> 00:20:45,360
when the wills were read,

287
00:20:45,360 --> 00:20:49,240
the avant-garde turned out to be the beneficiary after all.

288
00:20:49,240 --> 00:20:53,440
The first great painter to embody the ideal of the avant-garde

289
00:20:53,440 --> 00:20:57,400
was Gustave Courbet in the 1850s and '60s.

290
00:20:57,400 --> 00:21:00,880
In politics, a radical. In art, a realist.

291
00:21:00,880 --> 00:21:03,720
In person, an invincible and solid egotist

292
00:21:03,720 --> 00:21:08,280
who could show himself greeting even the sea on equal terms.

293
00:21:10,120 --> 00:21:13,760
He called himself "the most arrogant man in France".

294
00:21:13,760 --> 00:21:16,960
When asked which school he belonged to, he replied,

295
00:21:16,960 --> 00:21:21,320
"I'm a Courbetist, that's all. My painting is the only true one.

296
00:21:21,320 --> 00:21:24,840
"I am the first and unique artist of this century.

297
00:21:24,840 --> 00:21:27,880
"The others are students or drivellers."

298
00:21:28,880 --> 00:21:31,160
Courbet's work can only be understood

299
00:21:31,160 --> 00:21:34,960
in relation to the public that he was struggling to create.

300
00:21:34,960 --> 00:21:37,560
This public, he hoped, would crystallise

301
00:21:37,560 --> 00:21:41,480
out of the mass audience of the salons around the idea of realism,

302
00:21:41,480 --> 00:21:46,120
a public which accepted that art should be challenging and problematic.

303
00:21:46,120 --> 00:21:49,400
In short, the public for modern art itself.

304
00:21:49,400 --> 00:21:53,000
He set himself firmly against the reigning taste of his day,

305
00:21:53,000 --> 00:21:55,040
and the penalty was insult.

306
00:21:55,040 --> 00:21:58,920
"From what fabulous mating of a slug with a peacock,
307
00:21:58,920 --> 00:22:03,520
"from what genital antithesis, from what fatty oozings

308
00:22:03,520 --> 00:22:07,760
"can have been generated this thing called Monsieur Gustave Courbet?

309
00:22:07,760 --> 00:22:11,840
"Under what gardener's cloche with the help of what manure,

310
00:22:11,840 --> 00:22:17,360
"as a result of what mixture of wine, beer, corrosive mucous and flatulent
swellings

311
00:22:17,360 --> 00:22:20,760
"can have grown this sonorous and hairy pumpkin,

312
00:22:20,760 --> 00:22:22,640
"this aesthetic belly,

313
00:22:22,640 --> 00:22:27,280
"this imbecilic and impotent incarnation of the self?"

314
00:22:27,280 --> 00:22:30,240
They don't write art criticism like that any more.

315
00:22:30,240 --> 00:22:33,240
Not because of editorial timidity or the law of libel,

316
00:22:33,240 --> 00:22:38,520
but because nobody feels threatened by works of art the way that Dumas felt
threatened by Courbet.

317
00:22:38,520 --> 00:22:43,600
He used the kind of language that societies use to protect themselves and to punish
offenders.

318
00:22:43,600 --> 00:22:47,040
Its frenzied insult was, in a way, a back-handed compliment

319
00:22:47,040 --> 00:22:51,840
because it sprang from an intense belief that it mattered what art said

320
00:22:51,840 --> 00:22:56,120
and that works of art had real consequences in the real world.
321
00:22:56,120 --> 00:23:00,000
To change the language of art, the official visual speech of France,

322
00:23:00,000 --> 00:23:04,080
was like seizing the radio station and changing the programmes.

323
00:23:04,080 --> 00:23:09,160
The new could only shock as long as it was constantly underwritten by the old.

324
00:23:09,160 --> 00:23:13,160
Otherwise, why get excited by bits of paint on canvas?

325
00:23:13,160 --> 00:23:16,640
From Courbet onwards, the idea of the avant-garde artist

326
00:23:16,640 --> 00:23:20,440
as a Bolshevist or anarchist was fixed in the public mind.

327
00:23:20,440 --> 00:23:25,320
It contributed to the idea that modern art owed nothing to the past

328
00:23:25,320 --> 00:23:28,400
and was opposed to all traditions.

329
00:23:28,400 --> 00:23:31,480
This was nonsense, but it was durable nonsense.

330
00:23:31,480 --> 00:23:36,640
I think that the principal radical effect

331
00:23:36,640 --> 00:23:41,680
that the avant-garde has on society, and has had on society,

332
00:23:41,680 --> 00:23:48,000
doesn't take place directly in the realm of politics, but takes place in the realm
of style and feeling.

333
00:23:48,000 --> 00:23:53,480
That is, it prepares the educated segment of the society

334
00:23:53,480 --> 00:23:58,240
to question the values that have been handed down.

335
00:23:58,240 --> 00:24:01,920
It...creates a kind of ferment...

336
00:24:01,920 --> 00:24:07,640
which prepares the way for vast political change.

337
00:24:07,640 --> 00:24:09,880
Its role is to create a model of dissent.

338
00:24:11,440 --> 00:24:13,520
Today, painting and sculpture

339
00:24:13,520 --> 00:24:16,720
scarcely have the power left to create such a model.

340
00:24:16,720 --> 00:24:20,360
All that happens is, now and again, usually in England or Australia,

341
00:24:20,360 --> 00:24:22,760
people get worked up about some object

342
00:24:22,760 --> 00:24:26,680
because it's seemed not worth the money a museum paid for it.

343
00:24:26,680 --> 00:24:29,400
So it was with Carl Andre's 120 Bricks.

344
00:24:29,400 --> 00:24:33,160
The essential difference between this kind of sculpture

345
00:24:33,160 --> 00:24:35,480
and any that existed in the past,

346
00:24:35,480 --> 00:24:40,640
is that this depends, not just a bit, but totally on the museum.

347
00:24:40,640 --> 00:24:44,360
A Rodin in a parking lot is still a misplaced Rodin.

348
00:24:44,360 --> 00:24:47,560
But this in a parking lot is just bricks.

349
00:24:47,560 --> 00:24:51,640
In this way, a museum becomes a nearly equal partner with the artist.

350
00:24:51,640 --> 00:24:54,520
It helps create the work by providing the only place

351
00:24:54,520 --> 00:24:56,960
where an array of bricks can be seen as art

352
00:24:56,960 --> 00:24:59,640
and fitted into the context

353
00:24:59,640 --> 00:25:02,600
of a minor modern art movement called minimalism.

354
00:25:02,600 --> 00:25:05,480
On the street, minimalism doesn't exist.

355
00:25:05,480 --> 00:25:07,840
There are only things.

356
00:25:09,440 --> 00:25:12,440
This piece by the American sculptor Donald Judd,

357
00:25:12,440 --> 00:25:17,320
if you saw it outside the gallery, is just a row of plywood boxes.

358
00:25:17,320 --> 00:25:21,960
The museum gives it a slot in a debate about the nature and limits of art,

359
00:25:21,960 --> 00:25:24,840
and that was the content of the work.

360
00:25:24,840 --> 00:25:27,560
The Nirvana of boredom that minimalism promised

361
00:25:27,560 --> 00:25:31,280
was the exact opposite of the fantasies of action and involvement

362
00:25:31,280 --> 00:25:33,320
that political art held out.

363
00:25:33,320 --> 00:25:35,360
CROWD CHEERING

364
00:25:35,360 --> 00:25:37,960
But the real field of modernist experience
365
00:25:37,960 --> 00:25:41,840
lies somewhere between dumb mass propaganda on one hand

366
00:25:41,840 --> 00:25:45,440
and the silences of a dying avant-garde on the other.

367
00:25:45,440 --> 00:25:47,560
That experience is not collective.

368
00:25:47,560 --> 00:25:51,960
In front of a Matisse, you do not hear the chant of surging millions.

369
00:25:51,960 --> 00:25:56,320
You hear one voice carefully explaining itself to one person -

370
00:25:56,320 --> 00:25:59,160
the interested stranger, yourself.

371
00:26:04,480 --> 00:26:06,960
Most of the great voices of modernity

372
00:26:06,960 --> 00:26:09,440
come from neither the left nor the right of society,

373
00:26:09,440 --> 00:26:11,520
but from just outside it.

374
00:26:11,520 --> 00:26:16,000
The basic reason why the avant-garde had so little influence on action

375
00:26:16,000 --> 00:26:20,480
and such a lot on sensibility is that it was solitary.

376
00:26:20,480 --> 00:26:21,880
William Reuben.

377
00:26:21,880 --> 00:26:23,920
Religious painting ceases.

378
00:26:23,920 --> 00:26:27,840
The painting of the political leader disappears.

379
00:26:27,840 --> 00:26:30,760
The painting of history, as such, disappears.
380
00:26:30,760 --> 00:26:35,080
All the themes that belong to the collectivity, so to say, disappear.

381
00:26:35,080 --> 00:26:38,560
One of the ways we can define modern art, if we want to,

382
00:26:38,560 --> 00:26:43,920
is that it has been an art that did not engage itself in the old collectivities,

383
00:26:43,920 --> 00:26:48,800
but rather in the much more limited world of the experience of the artist himself

384
00:26:48,800 --> 00:26:53,360
and of the people who loved and were interested in that world.

385
00:26:53,360 --> 00:26:59,320
This world of the artist has since been commercialised and various other things
have happened to it,

386
00:26:59,320 --> 00:27:02,360
but in its essence, it was a private world

387
00:27:02,360 --> 00:27:06,400
as opposed to the public world which characterised pre-modern art.

388
00:27:06,400 --> 00:27:11,640
This recoil from the public stance didn't only happen in abstract art.

389
00:27:11,640 --> 00:27:14,360
It came in depictive art as well.

390
00:27:14,360 --> 00:27:17,640
There is an immense gap between the ambitions of a Courbet

391
00:27:17,640 --> 00:27:21,200
and those of an American realist sculptor like George Segal.

392
00:27:21,200 --> 00:27:23,920
His subject is not so much human sociability

393
00:27:23,920 --> 00:27:28,520
as the difficulty of any kind of communication at all.

394
00:27:31,880 --> 00:27:34,520
In fact, over the last 25 years,

395
00:27:34,520 --> 00:27:39,080
the art of social commentary has been the exception and not the rule.

396
00:27:39,080 --> 00:27:43,520
One of these exceptions is Ed Kienholz, who makes big tableaus

397
00:27:43,520 --> 00:27:45,680
charged with irony and grotesqueness

398
00:27:45,680 --> 00:27:48,600
very much in the tradition of Berlin Dada,

399
00:27:48,600 --> 00:27:51,400
but starting with the American scene.

400
00:27:51,400 --> 00:27:53,440
CHATTER AND MUSIC

401
00:28:18,760 --> 00:28:22,200
A bar and eaterie in Los Angeles called Barney's Beanery

402
00:28:22,200 --> 00:28:27,160
formed one of these pieces, and Kienholz reconstructed it and its clientele.

403
00:28:32,640 --> 00:28:35,280
HUM OF CONVERSATION

404
00:28:35,280 --> 00:28:38,680
SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYS IN BACKGROUND

405
00:28:45,080 --> 00:28:49,720
Most of the avant-garde style since Cubism were meant as a criticism of life.

406
00:28:49,720 --> 00:28:53,720
But the dominant museum style of the '60s certainly was not.

407
00:28:53,720 --> 00:28:56,400
This was the kind of color field painting

408
00:28:56,400 --> 00:28:58,800
that developed out of Jackson Pollock's work,
409
00:28:58,800 --> 00:29:01,240
that atmospheric web of dripped paint,

410
00:29:01,240 --> 00:29:04,680
all free gesture and light touch.

411
00:29:04,680 --> 00:29:09,080
The artist who seized a duplicit delicacy was Helen Frankenthaler.

412
00:29:09,080 --> 00:29:12,320
In 1952, she painted Mountains and Sea,

413
00:29:12,320 --> 00:29:15,880
the progenitor of a whole school of stain painting.

414
00:29:15,880 --> 00:29:19,240
Her work held a constant thread of landscape images,

415
00:29:19,240 --> 00:29:21,280
but other painters who picked up

416
00:29:21,280 --> 00:29:25,000
on her way of dying and staining the canvas dispensed with that.

417
00:29:25,000 --> 00:29:28,360
Morris Louis wanted to produce a decorative impersonal surface

418
00:29:28,360 --> 00:29:30,600
from which everything that smacked of character,

419
00:29:30,600 --> 00:29:35,200
like a directional brushstroke or a change of texture, was excluded.

420
00:29:35,200 --> 00:29:38,600
Kenneth Noland reduced the elements even further.

421
00:29:38,600 --> 00:29:42,240
Colour, not shape, is the origin of each painting.

422
00:29:42,240 --> 00:29:44,640
Noland could give it an airy energy

423
00:29:44,640 --> 00:29:48,120
that offered a pure forceful hedonism to the eye.
424
00:29:48,120 --> 00:29:50,160
But that was all they did offer,

425
00:29:50,160 --> 00:29:54,320
and although more museum time and space was devoted to propagating it

426
00:29:54,320 --> 00:29:57,120
in America than any other style or movement,

427
00:29:57,120 --> 00:29:59,160
the resources of color field painting

428
00:29:59,160 --> 00:30:02,240
were looking pretty thin by the end of the '60s.

429
00:30:02,240 --> 00:30:05,000
It maintained itself as a mandarin style,

430
00:30:05,000 --> 00:30:08,560
but the Matissian heart was no longer in it.

431
00:30:10,080 --> 00:30:12,560
At the opposite pole of feeling,

432
00:30:12,560 --> 00:30:15,320
there were Frank Stella's paintings from the '70s,

433
00:30:15,320 --> 00:30:18,360
fuelled with a sort of maniacal decorative punch -

434
00:30:18,360 --> 00:30:20,400
glitter, scribbling, congestion,

435
00:30:20,400 --> 00:30:23,440
big French curves swinging out of the design

436
00:30:23,440 --> 00:30:26,240
like the feathers of some tropical bird.

437
00:30:26,240 --> 00:30:29,440
The sheer energy of this kind of work belies the idea,

438
00:30:29,440 --> 00:30:31,440
much talked about recently,

439
00:30:31,440 --> 00:30:35,200
that abstract painting, as such, is a dying form.

440
00:30:35,200 --> 00:30:39,160
As in a different way the paintings of Bridget Riley do.

441
00:30:41,640 --> 00:30:45,160
For abstract art can serve as a model for clear feeling.

442
00:30:45,160 --> 00:30:46,960
Here, it does.

443
00:30:46,960 --> 00:30:51,200
It is very exact, showing what slips can happen in the process of seeing,

444
00:30:51,200 --> 00:30:55,400
and how insecure the pleasures of the eye may be.

445
00:30:55,400 --> 00:30:58,560
I don't think it's a small matter to be shown this.

446
00:30:58,560 --> 00:31:01,640
Although some people think such art has no content,

447
00:31:01,640 --> 00:31:04,760
one can take it that this process of seeing and feeling

448
00:31:04,760 --> 00:31:09,440
set forth on the canvas IS the content - not a simple one, either.

449
00:31:09,440 --> 00:31:13,720
Riley's kind of sharp, self-doubting talent, so finely tuned,

450
00:31:13,720 --> 00:31:16,120
was particularly vulnerable to attack.

451
00:31:16,120 --> 00:31:18,760
It wasn't merely decorative,

452
00:31:18,760 --> 00:31:22,480
but the commercial world made it seem so in the 1960s,

453
00:31:22,480 --> 00:31:27,640
by chewing her work up and spitting it out as Op art fashion.

454
00:31:27,640 --> 00:31:31,480
MUSIC: "Devil In Her Heart" by the Beatles

455
00:31:34,000 --> 00:31:36,280
# She's got the devil in her heart... #

456
00:31:36,280 --> 00:31:40,440
By the end of the '60s, the word "avant-garde" had been done in

457
00:31:40,440 --> 00:31:42,800
by fashion on one side and, on the other,

458
00:31:42,800 --> 00:31:46,560
the market pressure for a new art movement every six months.

459
00:31:46,560 --> 00:31:49,720
# ..her lips they really thrill me

460
00:31:51,760 --> 00:31:55,680
# I'll take my chances For romance is

461
00:31:55,680 --> 00:31:58,640
# So important to me

462
00:31:59,640 --> 00:32:03,680
# She'll never hurt me She won't desert me

463
00:32:03,680 --> 00:32:07,480
# She's an angel sent to me

464
00:32:07,480 --> 00:32:11,920
# She's got the devil in her heart No, no, no

465
00:32:11,920 --> 00:32:15,280
# No, this I can't believe

466
00:32:15,280 --> 00:32:18,880
# She's gonna tear your heart apart

467
00:32:18,880 --> 00:32:23,200
# No, no nay will she deceive
468
00:32:23,200 --> 00:32:27,040
# She's got the devil in her heart

469
00:32:27,040 --> 00:32:31,200
# But she's an angel sent to me... #

470
00:32:31,200 --> 00:32:36,880
The problem wasn't entirely defined by the fact that fashion had been taking ideas
from artists.

471
00:32:36,880 --> 00:32:40,080
It had been doing that for 50 years.

472
00:32:40,920 --> 00:32:43,240
Art Deco was decorator Cubism,

473
00:32:43,240 --> 00:32:47,320
and a lot of linoleum owes its patterns to Mondrian.

474
00:32:47,320 --> 00:32:50,400
But now, the promotional world as a system

475
00:32:50,400 --> 00:32:55,000
had fused with the art world as a system, and that was new.

476
00:32:55,000 --> 00:32:59,120
In a very insidious way, the idea of cultural confrontation

477
00:32:59,120 --> 00:33:02,160
had been replaced by the idea of styling.

478
00:33:02,160 --> 00:33:04,600
And that was new, too.

479
00:33:04,600 --> 00:33:07,840
We were heading into a stage of meaningless tolerance

480
00:33:07,840 --> 00:33:11,920
where nothing an artist could do would be thought really offensive

481
00:33:11,920 --> 00:33:15,960
because there was always a chance that it might convert into capital.

482
00:33:15,960 --> 00:33:19,800
There was a flood of instant art for instant people.

483
00:33:19,800 --> 00:33:21,840
Vasarely to Warhole,

484
00:33:21,840 --> 00:33:25,000
all of it getting its 15 minutes of undivided attention

485
00:33:25,000 --> 00:33:28,240
from a new class of collectors who saw its up-to-datedness

486
00:33:28,240 --> 00:33:31,120
as a way of underwriting their social careers

487
00:33:31,120 --> 00:33:35,680
or buying an up-to-date public relations image for their companies.

488
00:33:35,680 --> 00:33:38,520
The great emblem of the culture of quick results

489
00:33:38,520 --> 00:33:40,720
was not any given work of art,

490
00:33:40,720 --> 00:33:43,760
it was the art market itself which began to boom

491
00:33:43,760 --> 00:33:47,200
and has been going up ever since, as money goes down.

492
00:33:50,040 --> 00:33:53,320
I started writing about art 20 years ago.

493
00:33:53,320 --> 00:33:56,560
In those far-off days, you could spend time in a museum

494
00:33:56,560 --> 00:34:00,080
without ever thinking about what the art might cost.

495
00:34:00,080 --> 00:34:02,040
The price was not relevant.

496
00:34:02,040 --> 00:34:06,040
Besides, price and value were completely distinct questions.

497
00:34:06,040 --> 00:34:09,200
But then, in the early '60s, something began to happen.

498
00:34:09,200 --> 00:34:11,680
First, there was a trickle and then a stream,

499
00:34:11,680 --> 00:34:15,320
and finally a great brown roaring flood of propaganda

500
00:34:15,320 --> 00:34:17,400
about "art investment".

501
00:34:17,400 --> 00:34:20,960
The price of a work of art now became part of its function.

502
00:34:20,960 --> 00:34:26,080
It redefined the art, whose new job was to sit on the wall and get more expensive.

503
00:34:26,080 --> 00:34:32,600
The result was that, whereas before, works of art had been like strangers with whom
one could converse

504
00:34:32,600 --> 00:34:35,680
and whom one could gradually get to know,

505
00:34:35,680 --> 00:34:39,320
they now assumed, more and more, the character of film stars,

506
00:34:39,320 --> 00:34:42,200
with the museum as their limousine.

507
00:34:42,200 --> 00:34:46,560
I doubt if anybody, nowadays, can look at a Cubist Braque or a Rothko

508
00:34:46,560 --> 00:34:48,920
or a Russian constructivist sculpture

509
00:34:48,920 --> 00:34:53,280
without being deeply affected by the fact that the prices of these things

510
00:34:53,280 --> 00:34:55,440
has become absurdly high.

511
00:34:55,440 --> 00:34:57,800
And that in some crucial sense,
512
00:34:57,800 --> 00:35:01,800
this has removed them from the run of ordinary experience.

513
00:35:01,800 --> 00:35:04,280
I think high price strikes people blind.

514
00:35:04,280 --> 00:35:06,800
I think it displaces the content of the work.

515
00:35:06,800 --> 00:35:09,840
You can't spend very much time writing about art

516
00:35:09,840 --> 00:35:14,800
without realising how much criticism and scholarship, whether they want to or not,

517
00:35:14,800 --> 00:35:19,720
end up serving that system whereby a bunch of brokers with faces like silver
teapots

518
00:35:19,720 --> 00:35:22,800
make fortunes flogging modern masterpieces

519
00:35:22,800 --> 00:35:26,880
to another bunch of investors in Manhattan and Zurich.

520
00:35:26,880 --> 00:35:29,480
You may or may not find this depressing,

521
00:35:29,480 --> 00:35:31,520
but it certainly depresses me.

522
00:35:31,520 --> 00:35:34,600
David Bathurst of Christie's, New York.

523
00:35:34,600 --> 00:35:37,960
Well, it scares the hell out of me, frankly,

524
00:35:37,960 --> 00:35:42,560
because tulip mania, which is the most dramatic and historical

525
00:35:42,560 --> 00:35:46,440
possible parallel with the situation at present,

526
00:35:46,440 --> 00:35:50,560
was rather like the South Sea Bubble.

527
00:35:50,560 --> 00:35:54,680
You get a perfectly straightforward market, a good strong market,

528
00:35:54,680 --> 00:35:57,280
an international market like the art market,

529
00:35:57,280 --> 00:36:01,440
and suddenly, for whatever reason, it becomes the flavour of the month.

530
00:36:01,440 --> 00:36:04,120
Art is the thing to put your money into.

531
00:36:04,120 --> 00:36:07,160
All sorts of people who have no interest in art,

532
00:36:07,160 --> 00:36:12,720
just AS art, as something which you should love and like and be interested in.

533
00:36:12,720 --> 00:36:15,520
Suddenly, you're told you ought to be investing in art.

534
00:36:15,520 --> 00:36:19,000
Millions of people pour their money into works of art

535
00:36:19,000 --> 00:36:24,000
and they expect it to perform in some way, like some magic stock.

536
00:36:24,000 --> 00:36:26,280
I have £3,000 bid for it.

537
00:36:26,280 --> 00:36:28,960
For £3,000...

538
00:36:29,800 --> 00:36:32,240
£3,000. 200.

539
00:36:32,240 --> 00:36:34,720
500. 800. 4,000.

540
00:36:34,720 --> 00:36:36,760
At £4,000...
541
00:36:37,920 --> 00:36:39,760
4,000.

542
00:36:39,760 --> 00:36:41,840
£4,000. Any more?

543
00:36:41,840 --> 00:36:45,200
£4,000. 4,000.

544
00:36:45,200 --> 00:36:46,640
Any more?

545
00:36:48,840 --> 00:36:53,080
The basic law of the art market is that art has no intrinsic value,

546
00:36:53,080 --> 00:36:55,600
no value as material.

547
00:36:55,600 --> 00:37:00,680
Its price reflects only two things - desire and scarcity.

548
00:37:00,680 --> 00:37:03,720
Its scarcity can be controlled, to some extent,

549
00:37:03,720 --> 00:37:07,000
and nothing is more manipulable than desire.

550
00:37:07,000 --> 00:37:10,000
High price isolates the star painting.

551
00:37:10,000 --> 00:37:13,000
It makes it a curiosity, a celebrity.

552
00:37:13,000 --> 00:37:17,720
And like other celebrities, both famous and only partly visible.

553
00:37:17,720 --> 00:37:21,080
You can't walk into a museum and look at a picture

554
00:37:21,080 --> 00:37:26,000
which has been rammed down your throat in the newspapers only a month or year ago,

555
00:37:26,000 --> 00:37:28,080
that this picture fetched two, three
556
00:37:28,080 --> 00:37:32,200
and, in the case of the Valasquez in the Metropolitan Museum, 5.5 million,

557
00:37:32,200 --> 00:37:35,600
you can't look at it and totally put it out of your mind.

558
00:37:35,600 --> 00:37:40,080
You must be wondering, "Is that really worth 5.5 million?"

559
00:37:40,080 --> 00:37:42,680
However marvellous the work of art is,

560
00:37:42,680 --> 00:37:45,960
this element must cloud your thinking quite heavily.

561
00:37:45,960 --> 00:37:48,040
It must dominate your thinking.

562
00:37:48,040 --> 00:37:51,800
Um... It's rather like... a pretty girl.

563
00:37:51,800 --> 00:37:54,440
You look at a pretty girl. That's lovely.

564
00:37:54,440 --> 00:37:57,160
Then you're told she's a gillionairess.

565
00:37:57,160 --> 00:38:02,120
This can - I'm sure it shouldn't - but there's no question, it affects your
thinking.

566
00:38:02,120 --> 00:38:05,960
It may affect it advantageously or disadvantageously.

567
00:38:05,960 --> 00:38:12,280
I'm sure, if you're a gentleman... you should totally ignore it, but it's
impossible.

568
00:38:12,280 --> 00:38:14,920
And, um... It's the same sort of thing.

569
00:38:14,920 --> 00:38:18,400
It does cloud your thinking, for better or for worse,
570
00:38:18,400 --> 00:38:22,240
and I'm sure in many cases, practically all cases, for worse.

571
00:38:22,240 --> 00:38:25,920
Works of art, now, have become rather like gold ingots.

572
00:38:25,920 --> 00:38:28,200
People look at them and say, "Gosh!"

573
00:38:33,000 --> 00:38:37,960
One reaction among artists in the '70s was to stop making objects altogether,

574
00:38:37,960 --> 00:38:40,760
to make art which, in theory, couldn't be sold,

575
00:38:40,760 --> 00:38:45,760
art that was an event, leaving just its traces on film or tape.

576
00:38:45,760 --> 00:38:47,800
Performance art,

577
00:38:47,800 --> 00:38:51,320
which most people still have trouble seeing as art at all.

578
00:38:51,320 --> 00:38:56,600
It's a kind of high-intensity theatre and because its basic material is the
artist's body

579
00:38:56,600 --> 00:39:00,320
some performance pieces carry risk and pressure to an extreme.

580
00:39:00,320 --> 00:39:02,960
Like this by the Englishman Stuart Brisley,

581
00:39:02,960 --> 00:39:06,680
where he pushes himself almost to drowning in a tank.

582
00:39:08,480 --> 00:39:13,640
I am interested in placing the body in certain circumstances

583
00:39:13,640 --> 00:39:19,680
whereby a certain strain occurs, where a certain tension occurs.

584
00:39:19,680 --> 00:39:21,880
For example, being underwater.

585
00:39:21,880 --> 00:39:26,560
In this case, I was dealing with the problem of people

586
00:39:26,560 --> 00:39:30,200
who almost drop out of the bottom of the social system

587
00:39:30,200 --> 00:39:33,800
and become tramps or down and outs, or what have you.

588
00:39:33,800 --> 00:39:38,520
So that one has this kind of mute character.

589
00:39:38,520 --> 00:39:41,800
That was one of the major elements in the piece

590
00:39:41,800 --> 00:39:44,360
that I wanted to express.

591
00:39:55,160 --> 00:39:58,320
You can see what tradition such work belongs to.

592
00:39:58,320 --> 00:40:00,280
It's expressionism.

593
00:40:00,280 --> 00:40:03,720
But today, expressionism has collapsed inwards,

594
00:40:03,720 --> 00:40:07,640
leaving only one theme, the portrait, the artist himself,

595
00:40:07,640 --> 00:40:11,600
his own body seen both as subject and as object.

596
00:40:13,400 --> 00:40:18,360
If you wanted to find the crossing points between the early romanticism of American
art

597
00:40:18,360 --> 00:40:21,960
and the narcissism of the '70s, this would be one of them.

598
00:40:21,960 --> 00:40:27,600
This is The Mirrored Room designed by the artist Lucas Samaras in 1966.
599
00:40:27,600 --> 00:40:31,680
Despite photography and all the ways we have of capturing an image,

600
00:40:31,680 --> 00:40:36,640
the mirror is still the main way we have of inspecting our own bodies.

601
00:40:36,640 --> 00:40:40,560
For Samaras, the image in the mirror was both himself

602
00:40:40,560 --> 00:40:45,600
and somebody else, an audience reacting to what he did.

603
00:40:45,600 --> 00:40:50,680
So the mirror's a kind of magical split in the world of human relationships.

604
00:40:50,680 --> 00:40:54,280
To see yourself multiplied forever inside a glass cube,

605
00:40:54,280 --> 00:40:57,320
that is a tremendous feat of narcissism.

606
00:40:59,680 --> 00:41:03,760
Even the table and the chair throw back little facets of oneself.

607
00:41:03,760 --> 00:41:07,960
Their own shape gets quite lost in this maze of reflections.

608
00:41:09,640 --> 00:41:12,080
Meanwhile, the reflections are infinite.

609
00:41:12,080 --> 00:41:17,080
They make up this huge crystalline panorama, like the night sky.

610
00:41:17,080 --> 00:41:20,840
Like outer space, something very much bigger than the self,

611
00:41:20,840 --> 00:41:23,360
but artificial at the same time.

612
00:41:23,360 --> 00:41:26,560
When camera or videotape replace the mirror,

613
00:41:26,560 --> 00:41:28,600
you have body art.
614
00:41:28,600 --> 00:41:31,080
Its ancestry lies 50 years back,

615
00:41:31,080 --> 00:41:35,560
when Marcel Duchamp had a star shaved on the back of his head

616
00:41:35,560 --> 00:41:39,760
and pretended to be Old Nick, the devil, with shaving cream.

617
00:41:39,760 --> 00:41:43,920
Probably its most interesting practitioner today lives in Vienna,

618
00:41:43,920 --> 00:41:47,360
appropriately, since Vienna was the city of Freud,

619
00:41:47,360 --> 00:41:49,400
the cradle of psychoanalysis,

620
00:41:49,400 --> 00:41:55,320
and its culture was permeated by the expressionist desire to inspect and question
the neurotic self.

621
00:41:55,320 --> 00:41:59,240
ORGAN PLAYS "THE BLUE DANUBE"

622
00:42:05,120 --> 00:42:09,360
ORCHESTRA PLAYS "THE BLUE DANUBE"

623
00:42:56,160 --> 00:43:00,080
ORGAN CONCLUDES "THE BLUE DANUBE"

624
00:43:02,160 --> 00:43:05,360
Today, the artist Arnulf Rainer draws inspiration

625
00:43:05,360 --> 00:43:09,400
from photos of catatonic posers and grimaces in the mad house,

626
00:43:09,400 --> 00:43:12,880
and acts out his own developments of them before a camera.

627
00:43:12,880 --> 00:43:15,320
Then, he alters them by drawing.

628
00:43:15,320 --> 00:43:18,600
SPEAKS IN GERMAN

629
00:43:22,000 --> 00:43:27,040
INTERPRETER: Like all artists, I'm in a tradition of self-portraiture.

630
00:43:27,040 --> 00:43:32,200
There is probably a special relationship to Van Gogh's and Schiele's self-
portraits,

631
00:43:32,200 --> 00:43:38,800
insofar as they're done in a very manneristic, heightened and exalted form...

632
00:43:38,800 --> 00:43:41,480
CONTINUES SPEAKING IN GERMAN

633
00:43:47,760 --> 00:43:50,840
..Perhaps it is important in general,

634
00:43:50,840 --> 00:43:56,000
that I experience a strong identity between the expression of my body,

635
00:43:56,000 --> 00:43:59,040
my pose and my psychological state.

636
00:44:00,040 --> 00:44:03,440
And then, it's important that I'm coordinated,

637
00:44:03,440 --> 00:44:07,320
that my whole body amalgamates into a unity.

638
00:44:07,320 --> 00:44:11,000
For instance, between the toe and the pupil,

639
00:44:11,000 --> 00:44:13,640
there becomes a strong connection.

640
00:44:19,600 --> 00:44:22,360
And then, there are special criteria,

641
00:44:22,360 --> 00:44:25,400
but that depends on my state of mind.

642
00:44:25,400 --> 00:44:28,520
Excitement or aggressiveness
643
00:44:28,520 --> 00:44:31,760
or gliding or the will to exaggerate

644
00:44:31,760 --> 00:44:34,560
or presumptuous lying.

645
00:44:34,560 --> 00:44:39,080
Then very soft tones, then threatening ones.

646
00:44:40,200 --> 00:44:42,800
Although, in general,

647
00:44:42,800 --> 00:44:45,520
an inner uneasiness prevails.

648
00:44:49,480 --> 00:44:52,240
But there is a general feeling today

649
00:44:52,240 --> 00:44:55,560
that the traditions of modernist imagery are closing.

650
00:44:55,560 --> 00:44:58,480
Thus, the domain of ideal sociable pleasure

651
00:44:58,480 --> 00:45:01,480
of the world's delights unimpeded by irony,

652
00:45:01,480 --> 00:45:05,000
whose representatives were Bonnard and Matisse and Picasso,

653
00:45:05,000 --> 00:45:07,800
scarcely appears in painting any more.

654
00:45:07,800 --> 00:45:11,680
It survives in the context of gay imagery in David Hockney's work.

655
00:45:11,680 --> 00:45:15,640
If it no longer has its Mozarts, at least Hockney is its Cole Porter,

656
00:45:15,640 --> 00:45:18,400
which is no mean thing to be.

657
00:45:42,760 --> 00:45:46,480
Meanwhile, the hope of the Dadas, surrealists and constructivists,

658
00:45:46,480 --> 00:45:49,560
that art could influence politics, is gone.

659
00:45:49,560 --> 00:45:53,880
Perhaps the last artist to think otherwise is a German, Joseph Beuys,

660
00:45:53,880 --> 00:45:57,440
a former Luftwaffe pilot whose happenings and manifestos

661
00:45:57,440 --> 00:46:00,640
and celebrity as a Pied Piper of youth politics

662
00:46:00,640 --> 00:46:03,600
have turned him into a strangely anomalous figure,

663
00:46:03,600 --> 00:46:06,240
a protestor against the German establishment

664
00:46:06,240 --> 00:46:10,680
whose work is invested in by half the bankers in West Germany.

665
00:46:10,680 --> 00:46:16,960
But with the end of modern art, art starts, for me, you know?

666
00:46:16,960 --> 00:46:20,120
With the end of modern art, art is not dying,

667
00:46:20,120 --> 00:46:23,800
art comes to birth, that is my idea.

668
00:46:23,800 --> 00:46:26,320
But then it is a real understanding of art.

669
00:46:26,320 --> 00:46:31,440
It is an anthropological understanding of art. Everybody is an artist then.

670
00:46:31,440 --> 00:46:35,600
Beuys' answer to the political decline of the aesthetic avant-garde

671
00:46:35,600 --> 00:46:39,480
was to define art as "any kind of being or doing",

672
00:46:39,480 --> 00:46:41,520
rather than specifically making,

673
00:46:41,520 --> 00:46:45,880
and then to designate the whole social fabric, politics included,

674
00:46:45,880 --> 00:46:48,800
as what he called "a social sculpture".

675
00:46:48,800 --> 00:46:54,560
I think it is a basic metaphor for all social freedoms.

676
00:46:54,560 --> 00:46:57,040
But it shouldn't be only a metaphor.

677
00:46:57,040 --> 00:47:02,320
It should be in the daily life, a real means

678
00:47:02,320 --> 00:47:07,040
to go in and to transform the power fields of the society.

679
00:47:07,040 --> 00:47:11,480
Of course, it's one thing to wish that art had influence over events,

680
00:47:11,480 --> 00:47:14,360
and quite another to show that it actually does.

681
00:47:14,360 --> 00:47:18,040
Beuys' own work did not escape the machinery of the '70s,

682
00:47:18,040 --> 00:47:20,160
in which the meaning of all avant-gardes,

683
00:47:20,160 --> 00:47:24,960
socially directed or not, was effectively gutted by the market.

684
00:47:27,560 --> 00:47:30,120
But the work is often amazingly powerful.

685
00:47:30,120 --> 00:47:32,160
Beuys took glass cases

686
00:47:32,160 --> 00:47:35,640
and filled them with grimy mementos of the German past.
687
00:47:35,640 --> 00:47:38,440
A dried rat in a pail of straw,

688
00:47:38,440 --> 00:47:41,880
a hotplate with two blocks of fat sitting on the burners,

689
00:47:41,880 --> 00:47:44,800
chipped crockery, mummified sausages,

690
00:47:44,800 --> 00:47:46,760
sinister bits of metal and wire,

691
00:47:46,760 --> 00:47:49,720
and an old picture of a concentration camp.

692
00:47:49,720 --> 00:47:52,720
This piece is known as the Auschwitz Box.

693
00:47:52,720 --> 00:47:57,160
Its intensity is such that one can hardly imagine a school of Beuys.

694
00:47:57,160 --> 00:48:01,200
The work is too personal for that, too haunted by memory.

695
00:48:05,440 --> 00:48:07,960
CLAP OF THUNDER

696
00:48:12,680 --> 00:48:16,200
This may be the most expensive sculpture ever made,

697
00:48:16,200 --> 00:48:19,000
costing over 1 million to build.

698
00:48:19,000 --> 00:48:23,320
This is the tip of a work of art, or rather of 1/400th of a work of art

699
00:48:23,320 --> 00:48:25,680
which stands in the New Mexico desert

700
00:48:25,680 --> 00:48:28,760
a couple of hundred miles from Albuquerque.

701
00:48:28,760 --> 00:48:33,400
400 stainless steel rods, their tips forming a level plain of spikes
702
00:48:33,400 --> 00:48:36,080
one kilometre wide and a mile long,

703
00:48:36,080 --> 00:48:40,280
the whole thing laid out correct to one-sixteenth of an inch.

704
00:48:41,960 --> 00:48:44,320
Installation began on it in 1977

705
00:48:44,320 --> 00:48:48,400
and it's substantially finished now, or rather, insubstantially finished.

706
00:48:48,400 --> 00:48:50,440
Despite its enormous spread,

707
00:48:50,440 --> 00:48:53,760
The Lightning Field isn't really a mass at all.

708
00:48:53,760 --> 00:48:59,640
You don't think of it in terms of body and substance, but rather delicacy and
transparency,

709
00:48:59,640 --> 00:49:04,240
landscape, time and, above all, weather and light.

710
00:49:22,720 --> 00:49:25,680
THUNDER RUMBLES

711
00:49:39,520 --> 00:49:43,760
The artist who conceived this work is Walter De Maria.

712
00:49:45,440 --> 00:49:49,360
The place, this specific site, the fact that it's in New Mexico

713
00:49:49,360 --> 00:49:52,880
and not in California or in another place

714
00:49:52,880 --> 00:49:55,560
takes on a tremendous importance.

715
00:49:55,560 --> 00:50:01,560
And one feels a particular spirit of this place.

716
00:50:04,680 --> 00:50:10,000
This site was chosen because it was remote and isolated,

717
00:50:10,000 --> 00:50:12,840
more so than other places.

718
00:50:12,840 --> 00:50:18,480
There's a heavy incidence of lightning here during the summer months.

719
00:50:20,240 --> 00:50:26,400
The pointed tip serves as the direction,

720
00:50:26,400 --> 00:50:32,400
which sends the invisible electric charge into the atmosphere

721
00:50:32,400 --> 00:50:38,160
to complete the circuit between nature itself and the work.

722
00:50:42,960 --> 00:50:47,880
Part of the content of the work is the ratio of people to space.

723
00:50:47,880 --> 00:50:53,680
If we think of four to six people in one day walking through the field,

724
00:50:53,680 --> 00:50:56,480
they have a very private experience.

725
00:51:03,920 --> 00:51:09,480
Unfortunately, one can't often get a private enough experience in a museum.

726
00:51:10,400 --> 00:51:13,800
Though the museum has its function.

727
00:51:13,800 --> 00:51:17,400
The museum has its own architecture, its own traditions,

728
00:51:17,400 --> 00:51:19,600
which don't fit here.

729
00:51:31,440 --> 00:51:34,160
Clearly, the museum can't handle ALL art.

730
00:51:34,160 --> 00:51:38,120
You can't fit a whole landscape with 400 tax deductible spikes into it,
731
00:51:38,120 --> 00:51:41,240
and it's not a good place for small, fleeting gestures

732
00:51:41,240 --> 00:51:44,840
because gestures don't sit well in a permanent collection.

733
00:51:44,840 --> 00:51:48,760
Nor is it a good place for getting shot at in or half drowned in

734
00:51:48,760 --> 00:51:50,800
or getting covered in goat guts

735
00:51:50,800 --> 00:51:56,880
or experiencing any one of the other various things that body artists have chosen
to do to their bodies.

736
00:51:56,880 --> 00:52:00,920
Every institution has its limits, though it may try not to observe them.

737
00:52:00,920 --> 00:52:05,160
You have to think of a museum as broadcasting on a given frequency.

738
00:52:05,160 --> 00:52:09,760
Not all the signals coming out of the culture can get on that one wavelength.

739
00:52:09,760 --> 00:52:11,800
This is not the museum's fault.

740
00:52:11,800 --> 00:52:16,280
A museum can no more contain all culture than a zoo hold all nature.

741
00:52:17,040 --> 00:52:21,560
MUSIC: "Messa da Requiem" by Verdi

742
00:53:27,720 --> 00:53:30,640
If the avant-garde has lost its functions,

743
00:53:30,640 --> 00:53:33,400
is modern art just a historical issue?

744
00:53:33,400 --> 00:53:36,400
Thomas Messer, Director of the Guggenheim Museum.

745
00:53:36,400 --> 00:53:40,800
I don't think that art owes us anything.

746
00:53:40,800 --> 00:53:46,680
I think that art is its own motor, its own result.

747
00:53:46,680 --> 00:53:52,120
We exaggerate what art can do, at least in a direct way.

748
00:53:52,120 --> 00:53:56,160
I think that we are having expectancies about this

749
00:53:56,160 --> 00:54:01,000
which, when they are not fulfilled, or not fulfilled in that way,

750
00:54:01,000 --> 00:54:03,160
we turn around and blame it.

751
00:54:03,160 --> 00:54:08,280
So I am perfectly content to leave art go its own way

752
00:54:08,280 --> 00:54:13,680
and, furthermore, I have absolutely no fears about the fate of art.

753
00:54:13,680 --> 00:54:17,840
I do worry about art institutions, which is a different matter.

754
00:54:17,840 --> 00:54:21,200
As long as there is life on this planet, there will be art -

755
00:54:21,200 --> 00:54:25,240
whether we recognise it as such, whether we see it for what it is,

756
00:54:25,240 --> 00:54:27,440
or whether we look in wrong directions

757
00:54:27,440 --> 00:54:31,440
and presume that something is art, that isn't is another matter.

758
00:54:31,440 --> 00:54:33,480
But art is safe.

759
00:54:33,480 --> 00:54:39,480
As to whether modernism is over, I think it's probably a little too early to say.

760
00:54:39,480 --> 00:54:43,880
I don't think that it's out of the realm of possibility

761
00:54:43,880 --> 00:54:47,960
that a handful of great geniuses, great painters,

762
00:54:47,960 --> 00:54:52,520
could emerge within the next ten years and revitalise this tradition.

763
00:54:52,520 --> 00:54:55,040
That's all it takes - two or three men.

764
00:54:55,040 --> 00:54:59,000
At the same time, they will revitalise it, I think,

765
00:54:59,000 --> 00:55:01,040
in a way that will...

766
00:55:01,040 --> 00:55:05,480
make it not certainly resemble very closely what existed before.

767
00:55:05,480 --> 00:55:10,440
I would have to admit, in the face of those who argue that modernism is over,

768
00:55:10,440 --> 00:55:14,400
that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that a period is ending.

769
00:55:14,400 --> 00:55:16,520
ROAR OF TRAFFIC

770
00:55:21,400 --> 00:55:25,440
We finish where modernism began, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

771
00:55:25,440 --> 00:55:31,640
Perhaps the etiquette now demands that I should try and prognosticate about what is
coming next.

772
00:55:31,640 --> 00:55:34,000
Well, I won't, because I don't know.

773
00:55:34,000 --> 00:55:37,080
History teaches us a certain thing, that critics,

774
00:55:37,080 --> 00:55:41,160
when they fish out the crystal ball and guess what the future will be,
775
00:55:41,160 --> 00:55:43,200
are almost invariably wrong.

776
00:55:43,200 --> 00:55:46,680
I don't think there's been such a rush towards insignificance

777
00:55:46,680 --> 00:55:50,880
in the name of the historic or future as we've seen in the last 15 years.

778
00:55:50,880 --> 00:55:55,960
The famous radicalism of '60s and '70s art turns out to have been a kind of dumb
show,

779
00:55:55,960 --> 00:55:59,760
a charade of toughness, a way of avoiding feeling.

780
00:55:59,760 --> 00:56:04,960
I don't think we are ever again obliged to look at a plywood box or a row of bricks

781
00:56:04,960 --> 00:56:10,120
or a videotape of some twit from the University of Central Paranoia sticking pins
in himself

782
00:56:10,120 --> 00:56:12,560
and think, "This is the real thing.

783
00:56:12,560 --> 00:56:16,960
"This is the necessary art of our time. This needs respect."

784
00:56:16,960 --> 00:56:19,360
Because it isn't, and it doesn't.

785
00:56:19,360 --> 00:56:21,560
And nobody cares.

786
00:56:21,560 --> 00:56:25,720
The fact is that anyone EXCEPT a child can make such things,

787
00:56:25,720 --> 00:56:28,640
because children have the kind of direct, sensuous

788
00:56:28,640 --> 00:56:31,760
and complex relationship with the world around them
789
00:56:31,760 --> 00:56:35,840
that modernism in its declining years was trying to deny.

790
00:56:35,840 --> 00:56:40,120
That relationship is the lost paradise that art wants to give back to us.

791
00:56:40,120 --> 00:56:42,200
Not as children, but as adults.

792
00:56:42,200 --> 00:56:44,840
It's what the modern and the old have in common -

793
00:56:44,840 --> 00:56:48,880
Pollock with Turner, Matisse with Rubens or Braque with Poussin.

794
00:56:48,880 --> 00:56:53,880
The basic project of art is always to make the world whole and comprehensible,

795
00:56:53,880 --> 00:56:57,800
to restore it to us in all its glory and its occasional nastiness

796
00:56:57,800 --> 00:57:01,320
not through argument, but through feeling.

797
00:57:01,320 --> 00:57:05,800
And then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you,

798
00:57:05,800 --> 00:57:09,880
and in this way, to pass from feeling to meaning.

799
00:57:09,880 --> 00:57:12,920
It's not something that committees can do.

800
00:57:12,920 --> 00:57:16,320
It's not a task achieved by groups or by movements.

801
00:57:16,320 --> 00:57:21,280
It's done by individuals, each person mediating in some way

802
00:57:21,280 --> 00:57:26,840
between a sense of history and an experience of the world.

803
00:57:26,840 --> 00:57:29,080
This task is, literally, endless.
804
00:57:29,080 --> 00:57:34,160
So although we don't have an avant-garde any more, we're always going to have art.

805
00:57:49,000 --> 00:57:52,240
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

806
00:57:52,240 --> 00:57:55,440
E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk