Category: Academic art

The Neo-Con Assault on Art

As a realist painter I often write about the excesses of the postmodernist art movement, but when hard-right reactionaries join the fray to denounce modern art - my loyalties ultimately are with the artists under attack. One such clarifying moment has arrived. I received word that on October 6th, Gallery C in Hermosa Beach, California, will host an evening with “New York Art Critic,” Roger Kimball - who is nothing more than a purveyor of the Bush/Neo-Conservative agenda. Billed as “Today’s most controversial voice on art,” Kimball will discuss his most recent book, The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art. In his screed Kimball rails against the supposed influence “feminism, cultural studies, post-colonial studies,” and “the whole armory of academic anti-humanism” has had on the art world, arguing that a cabal of left-wing academics have succeeded in recasting the entire art world to fit their “radical ideological fantasy.” Oh, if it were only true!

The publishing house behind The Rape of the Masters, Encounter Books, says the book “provides an engaging antidote to the tendentious, politically motivated assaults on our treasured sources of culture and civilization.” Whose culture? Whose civilization? The press release from Gallery C states that Kimball shows how “great works should be understood through a series of illuminating readings in which art, not politics, guides the discussion.” Kimball feigns a neutral stance - insisting that politics should have nothing to do with art. But it’s not politics in art that bothers Mr. Kimball, it’s politics he doesn’t agree with that he finds problematic. In an article he wrote for the conservative National Review in 2004 on the subject of the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. Kimball wrote, “The Left keeps screaming about how dim George Bush is, but in the meantime, he has illuminated one area of public life after another with immensely talented and articulate people.” Not exactly a politically neutral position. When Gallery C refers to Kimball as a “New York Art Critic,” they are wise to leave out the part about him being a radical right-wing ideologue.

Roger Kimball is a columnist for FrontPageMag.com, the voice of diehard neo-conservatives organized around the fanatical anticommunist demagogue, David Horowitz. The pugnacious Mr. Horowitz wrote an article for FrontPage that dismissed the massive September 24th antiwar demonstration in Washington D.C. as a gathering of “100,000 Zarqawi supporters.” The odious Ann Coulter, who accuses liberals of being disloyal anti-Americans, also writes columns for FrontPage. Now you know the company Mr. Kimball keeps.

In February of 2003, as tens of millions of people all over the world protested against the impending war on Iraq, Roger Kimball wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, in which he said, “Every report I have seen has dilated on the extraordinary efforts of US military planners to minimize civilian casualties by the use of precision weapons, tactics to isolate Saddam from control of his weapons of mass destruction, and so on. But somehow the headline ‘US Strives to Remove Brutal Dictator, Liberate the Iraqi Populace, While Keeping Civilian Casualties and Damage to Infrastructure to a Minimum’ doesn’t play well to the gallery.” Now, two years later most everyone can see the truth. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, U.S. bombs have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis - and they don’t seem too thankful for being “liberated.” Still, Mr. Kimball is not one to let facts get in the way. Western Civilization presses ever onward, from reconstructing colonialism in Iraq, to reconstructing traditional power relationships in the art world. Roger Kimball will appear at Gallery C on October 6th, 2005, from 7 to 9 pm. The $20 door price benefits LACMA education programs. For more information visit the Gallery C website, at: www.galleryc.com