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The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, May 18, 2006
Veith and Duchamp
I would never for a moment accuse Gene Veith of being a promoter of Dada "art" theory. For example, he says this about the contemporary art scene:

"Art is whatever an artist does. In a kind of crazed secular Puritanism, contemporary theorists have been seeking to ‘purify’ art, to strip it of its human content and to reduce it to its barest minimum. The consequence has been the dehumanization of art." [Gene Veith, State of the Arts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), p. 59]

But when he implies a fairly informal (loose?) definition of art, as he does here:

"The art world today tends to scorn art that is ‘merely decorative.’ Choosing a painting because it matches the furniture does tend to minimize the work of art. The meaning of the work and its self-contained identity is neglected, giving the object of art no more status than the coffee table or the wallpaper. Decorative art fades into the background. And yet, decoration is a legitimate function of the arts. When we decorate our homes, we are, in effect, turning where we live into a work of art." [Gene Veith, State of the Arts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), pp. 33-34]

he is moving perilously close to the everthing-is-art mentality of Duchamp & Co. A living room may be artistically (aesthetically) decorated and may contain works of art, but it is not a work of art. And to paraphrase Gordon Clark: sometimes everything means nothing.

(quotes stolen from Doug Wilson's blog)