Just going to share this without comment, which doesn’t mean I’m endorsing it or taking any side for or against. I think I’m afraid to formulate an opinion. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve slipped into some parallel dimensions where, well, everything seems backwards or like a parody. I am perhaps softening up to the idea that I live in a simulated universe. It would explain a lot.

Re-blogged from:

“It’s OK to paint” hate!

by Lisa Braxton

What else is new?… white people are clamoring up their lily white horses and crusading against anyone and anything new or different again. Apparently, the latest attempt at relevance is to overflow paint buckets with tears because easel painting is no longer the center of the art discourse. If that weren’t pathetic enough, this latest pox, probably incubated in 4chan nether chambers, borrows its esthetic and mentality from the “it’s OK to be white” meme. I could understand if one individual lost (most likely) his grip on reality, but this sad testimonial to obsolescence has simultaneously cropped up in and around art schools and art departments all around the country, from CalArts, to UC Ivrine, to RISD, to CUNY… .

this sign appeared at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

As a painter myself I don’t share this sentiment, nor do I appreciate at all being implicated as mystically in-tandem with the resurgence of white supremacy.  As a painter I have never had to explain to friends and relatives why what I do is art at all, or why their two year old couldn’t do the same thing with the content of his diapers.

This sign appeared at RISD.

This isn’t just stupid, it’s sinister. For more than a century artists have struggled to break free of the shackles of the canon of white, Western art history in order to explore other ways of creating and communicating besides representational art, and painting and sculpture. A lot of the pioneers of performance art, conceptual art, video, installation, and other new mediums were women and people of color: Adrian Piper, Marina Abramović, Carolee Schneemann, Valie Export, Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta, Rebecca Horn, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Lorna Simpson, Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin, Louise Lawler, Rosemarie Trockel, and Hannah Wilke…

Carolee Schneemann: “Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions for Camera”, December 1963.

And then there’s this.

This sign appeared at UC Irvine.

The reactionary rejection of new media is simultaneously a rejection of the cultural contributions of women and people of color. It’s a longing for an earlier time when the white-male-genius reigned over the art world with his virtuoso canvases. Think Picasso!

Hannah E. Simone put it succinctly in her tweet.

Exactly, whoever put up these fliers wants to make painting great again! What next, MAPA hats? I have no sympathy whatsoever for white painters trying to reframe the contemporary art dialogue to be about the marginalization of painters. And even if it were true that to some extent painting wasn’t taken as seriously in some contemporary art venues, maybe that’s just fine, and it’s painters turn to take a back seat and shut up for a decade or two so other kinds of art and artists have a chance to flourish.

This sign appeared near the University of Michigan.

As Lizzy Boredome pointed out in her tweet, this is the last gasp of a dying breed.

All art is political, and advocacy for any style, or against any styles is also highly political. Art that purports to be apolitical happily upholds the status quo. These meme-tapers go further by trying to roll back decades of artistic evolution by non-white and non-male artists, and in so doing tacitly support state sponsored terror, police brutality against unarmed black men, and the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples.

This sign appeared outside of University of Washington.

One of my heroes, Hannah Gadsby, has dissected the misogyny in painting up to and including modern art. As she said in her brilliant stand-up, Nanette:

“The history of western art is just the history of men painting women like they’re flesh vases for their dick flowers. Having… said that, I think I’ve ruined any chance of getting a job in a gallery now. I mean, I could pay to be a volunteer guide. ‘Cause it doesn’t get any better with modern art, I tell you. I trip on the first hurdle. Pablo Picasso. I hate him, but you’re not allowed to.”

Pablo Picasso Picasso, Vase with Flowers, 1943.

The system is rigged in favor of the white male painter. Women outnumber men in art schools, but when it comes to who is in the permanent collections of prominent art museums in the U.S., it’s  87% male, and 85% white. All I see is people in the spotlight complaining that other people are allowed to clamor up on the stage at all. Nobody is preventing anyone else from painting, and this movement only serves to make it harder for other people to pursue other avenues of expression. In a word, it’s hate, and the fliers are hate speech.

This sign appeared at UC Davis.





8 replies on ““It’s OK to Paint” is Hate Speech.

  1. I saw a couple of these ridiculous fliers taped up in the art school at UC Irvine. I could have torn them down but didn’t even bother. Everyone is laughing at whoever put them up. Art has moved on from patriarchal painting. Deal with it or disappear.


  2. If painting is OK than why were none of the winners of the 2018 Turner Prize (named after the painter, J. M. W. Turner) painters? https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/sep/24/turner-prize-2018-review-tate-britain-naeem-mohaiemen-luke-willis-thompson-forensic-architecture-charlotte-prodger

    This is like having a Jimi Hendrix music award, none of the winners play guitar, and they are all singers who use auto-tune.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Somebody put this crap up at Evergreen and believe me those posters didn’t last an afternoon. We will not tolerate this in our school. Those fliers and this article need to disappear forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You blocked me on Reddit before I could reply that “The post by Lisa Braxton is the profoundly stupid blog post.”

    Art history does tend to focus on the idiosyncratic artists who broke the mould more than those artists who fell in line and produced more of the same.
    I recently went to my old art school’s grad show, and it was profoundly disappointing. The end of the year grad show used to be about beautiful freaks and weirdos exploring the world and themselves in their own unique ways. Now, it’s just a bunch of NPCs producing mindless pablum that all echos the same tired refrain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool. Thanks for clearing that up. Now I see I could have taken it either way, but since nearly everything I’ve ever shared in art_theory has been voted down to zero, and I get all sorts of insults, I assumed the worst.

      “Now, it’s just a bunch of NPCs producing mindless pablum that all echos the same tired refrain.”

      This made me chuckle. I enjoyed that sentence enough to read it a few times. And I feel sorry for those artists as well, because I gather they are being steered in that direction. That was a serious problem with my grad school as well: the political agenda took over, and bullshit like semiotics. Only decades later does it strike me as comical that we spent so much time talking about the reifier and the reified.

      Just this morning I woke up and thought that artists might be better off tossing all the linguistic theory stuff, and NPC required reading in the dumpster, and just try to make cool shit. Sounds kinda’ silly, but, there’s something missing when young artists aren’t even tempted to make something really cool, but, rather, must fill a room around some pretext of enlightening the art audience on some fine point of cultural perception, architecture, history, linguistics, the correct moral attitude, deconstructionist literary theory, whatever.



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