Since Hegel, the idea of the end of art has become a staple of aesthetic theory. Will postart be the end of art?
The concept of “postart” was developed by the happening artist Allan Kaprow, based on his idea that life is much more interesting than art, at the expense of art. Postart is not a point of no return and in fact there are many fine artists who continue to make important art. But it was perhaps inevitable that “postart” would be attacked as non-elitist (aristocratic). Marcel Duchamp called it “intellectual expression” over “animal expression”. This can be seen in art with the split between minimal-conceptual art and expressionism.
In his book The End of Art, Donald Kuspit promotes the idea that fear and ignorance of the unconscious have created a climate of creative superficiality in which artists are unwilling to break trhough the surface of their minds to the uncomfortable waters that lie beneath. Militarism and materialism, authoritarianism and capitalism, are more devastating than anything in the unconscious, even though they have roots in unconscious.
Artists are scared of the inner truth about themselves, more particularly, about acknowledging psychic conflict and trauma as well as the primary creativity evidenced by fantasy (especially dreams).
Kuspit traces the genealogy of the postart aesthetic from Duchamp through Warhol’s commercialism to Hirst’s installations (and his preoccupation with banal objects and everyday life situations).
Whereas modern art consist of revolutionary experiments motivated by a desire to express aspects of the newly-discovered “unconscious mind,” postart, Kuspit argues, is shallow, unreflective banality motivated by the desire to become institutionalized.
The End of Art will appeal to anyone who has ever felt bamboozled by the productions of the postmodern establishment.