YOUR NEUTRAL APOSTROPHES SICKEN ME

Mike Kelley (in Speaking of Art, Side B, p. 133):

So the distinction between “high” and “low” is really not one that you have any interest in, other than to reject and question?

I don’t think it has any meaning except in terms of power structures. I’ve always said that I prefer the terms “allowable” and “non-allowable” instead of “high” or “low,” which are used now to describe whether something fits into an established intellectual canon or whether it is associated with mass culture. Then certain parts of mass culture are high and certain parts are low, and certain kinds of high art are acceptable and certain kinds of high art are not acceptable, so what does high or low mean? Does it mean anything?

I think it’s a bit like the “High and Low” exhibition at MoMA in New York, which was really a travesty. Every once in a while [the art world deems low artists] good enough to become high artists, and in that particular show it was R. Crumb. He was raised to the level of an artist, just like Saul Steinberg or other token “low” artists were at one point raised up.

But the whole history here is wrong. Underground cartoonists were fine artists who, for political reasons, decided to work in a populist mode, which never was low to begin with. So basically this whole high/low distinction is a lie, and such distinctions and generalizations are just used toward political ends.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.02.13 15:37. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2011/02/13/highart-lowart/

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