The above came to me while contemplating the second half of the post Neoneocon had up today, about the recent essay by Columbia philosophy student Coleman Hughes, which in turn reminded her of the philosopher Stephen Hicks. Hughes's essay is good, and recommended. A calm, rather precise bombshell. I had not heard of Hicks, and will have to ask my philosophy professor friend about him. I liked what I read and thought his arguments sound. His best-known book is Explaining Postmodernism, which is free on Kindle if you are interested.
Searching about for other things he has written, I came across Why Art Became Ugly. I have read a several discussions of this over the decades. I may like this one best, though I will have to see how well it wears. That it is intentional is clear, and the idea that artists denied the reality of beauty because this is at root an ugly world is not new to me. But Hicks enlarges that to show it is part of a larger pattern, a sort of apophatic approach to art: If I remove dimensionality, is it still art? If I remove color, is it still art? If I remove meaning, is it still art? It gave me a clearer picture of all those "conversations" about "What is art?" Hicks is ultimately not very sympathetic to those conversations, but he grants that it was all a reasonable experiment in Modernism. He believes that is now long over. Postmodernism is not a rebellion against Modernism, but a narrowing and emphasis on a few attributes of it, and now it has reached the end of the trail. He explains one driver of all this skepticism and denial is the disillusionment artists felt as socialism and communism failed, while the free market and technology, those hated and soul-destroying philosophies, succeeded.
Artists and the art world should be at the edge. The art world is now marginalized, in-bred, and conservative. It is being left behind, and for any self-respecting artist there should be nothing more demeaning than being left behind.He does a remarkably good job of providing examples from the art he is discussing. I learned quite a bit. For those who recall the extended conversations we had about the Arts & Humanities Tribe and how their social beliefs drive their politics, there is much of interest here.