Dec 26, 2008, 06:34AM

"Moral anesthesia"

If you're over-saturated with stockings and fruit cake and glassy-eyed family members, here's a heady essay—titled "The End of Art"—to get your blood flowing again.

Major food for thought:

The situation tempts one to sympathize with Leo Tolstoy. In a famous passage fromWhat Is Art? Tolstoy wrote that “art, in our society, has been so perverted that not only has bad art come to be considered good, but even the very perception of what art really is has been lost.”

And that was in the 1890s. Just imagine Tolstoy strolling through New York’s Chelsea galleries or London’s Tate Modern. He would not, I suspect, have thought much of Andy Warhol as an artist, but he would have admired his candor and perception—for, as Warhol observed in 1987, “Art is what you can get away with.”

These days, the art world places a great premium on novelty. But here’s the irony: Almost everything championed as innovative in contemporary art is essentially a tired repetition of gestures inaugurated by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, creator of the first bottle-rack ­masterpiece and the first urinal fountain.


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