Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reactionary [Late] Modernism: Back in Style!

ARTnews does a fine job reporting on horrifying events in the art world. Consider that art works owned by long since dead Jews, killed during some holocaust and confiscated by the Nazzies, ended up in European art museums, on display for the public! "Oh, gawd, tha horrahs!" Good thing the ancestors of those deceased parasites, er.. patrons of the arts, were contacted so the works could be returned to their rightful owners. Of course, contacting the ancestors of the artists who actually created the works was out of the question since in the feudal enterprise known as the art world, the fruits of one's labor mean nothing when compared to the purse of those desperately trying to buy culture.

After that shocking affair (art on display for the public! really...), we have this travesty: Alexey Beliayev-Guintovt winning the Kandinsky Prize for the Project of the Year, "Russia's answer to the Turner Prize." So far it seems innocuous enough until it is revealed that Alexy:

is regarded by many as a fascist. He is the official artistic director of the Eurasian Youth Union, the youth wing of the small, ultranationalist Eurasia Party, which is rumored to be supported by the Kremlin. Last August he visited South Ossetia during the war between Georgia and Russian-backed South Ossetian separatists. After his return, he gave an interview glorifying the might of Russian arms and proposed the reconstruct Tskhinvali, the battered capital of the runaway republic, in Stalinist architectural style.

Two things. For one, wasn't it Stalinist Russia that is typically credited with the defeat of the fascists? Secondly, why is it so out of the question for an artist who is a member of a political group rumored to be supported by the Russian state to be awarded the Kandinsky prize? The website for the Tate Modern notes that:

After the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917 Kandinsky produced no more paintings for two years. This was partly due to lack of funds; but he was also co-operating with the new government by taking on numerous important roles in the new art institutions of the Bolshevik regime. When he did start to paint again in 1919, his paintings show a simplification of form and a more comprehensible structure. Continuing his developments of two years earlier, White Oval (1919) includes both a strong central shape and a dark, enclosing border. The pictorial space is freer than in his earlier work, more open and less physically dense. The painting In Grey (1919) is subdued in colour, and the shapes are starting to become more sharp edged, verging on the geometric – possibly a response to Kandinsky’s contact with the younger artists of the Russian avant-garde, such as Kasimir Malevich and Alexander Rodchenko.

Of course Malevich and Rodchenko were both well known supporters of the Bolsheviks as well. But these well known facts certainly wouldn't prevent the defenders of liberal orthodoxy from making an ass of themselves:

the announcement of his win caused an uproar in the Vinzavod audience, his supporters cheering while detractors booed and jeered. His acceptance speech was interrupted by the previous year's winner, Anatoly Osmolovsky, repeatedly yelling "Shame!" Outside, picketers holding a swastika-covered banner and chanting "A disgrace to Kandinsky" scuffled with the artist's supporters.

Even the author of the article, who at least admits that the fascist label is misleading, goes off the deep end by noting that:

Russian commentators wondered how much the foreign jurors knew about such figures as Alain de Benoist, a leader of the French New Right, whose doctrines are available on the Web site of the Eurasian Movement along with a manifesto composed by Beliayev-Guintovt. It also seems unlikely that the foreign judges [Ed. note: two Western jurors who voted in favor of Alexey winning the prize and were quoted as saying they evaluated "the works and not their content", which is like saying they looked at them but didn't see them] are familiar with such prophets of Eurasianism as the militaristic German writer Ernst Jünger, who claimed to "hate democracy like a plague," or the Italian occultist and fascist Julius Evola.

Just imagine the horror if people actually read some of the works by these 'creeps' and actually formulated an opinion on them outside the fear mongering of the chattering classes. And here I thought the reign of liberal modernity was supposed to have caused the desacralization of the word...


Bay Area National Anarchist said...

Fascinating article!


Ean Frick said...

Indeed. It is nice to see the ENR getting some notice, albeit slanderously. Of course the "don't touch" method liberals apply to iconoclast ideas will basically make people more curious about the ENR and Conservative Revolution.

James O'Meara said...

Excellent post. As you know, I continue to be fascinated/disgusted by the way Communist affiliations, up to Stalin himself, are treated as no big deal, or even entirely natural, while the slightest hint of "conservative" views is considered a dark stain. James Kalb is probably right: communists, however murderously extreme, are still arguing from the same premises as the media and academic types, which are identical to "reason itself" while to express Rightist views is to be seen as some kind of irrational monster, capable of any crime.

I'm reading a good example right now: Rosenblatt's bio of Rene Daumal. Neither she nor Daumal himself seems to have an inkling at any moment that there was something odd about mixing Guenon and vaguely Marxist politics, so the whole issue never gets addressed: apparently it's just natural that an intelligent young man would take Marx for granted.

BTW, excellent post on religion and the ENR. Perhaps you could expand on it for wider distribution here?

Teutonsuet said...

Who else besides Alexey Beliayev-Guintovt can be considered a "Reactionary Late Modernist" artist? I am trying to identify post war artists and/or art movements not marching in social democratic Gramiscian lockstep
with eachother.
The only other artist that comes to mind who may be on the Right is Norwegian born Swedish expat in Iceland Odd Nerdrum.