In art there is no progress, only fluctuations of intensity.In addition to what one can find in his books, his essays on late Goya, on artists he saw as hollow men, and much more sprinkle the internet. They shed a sometimes fierce light. As many people who don't know him as art critic know him as the author of The Fatal Shore, I should mention this tribute by writer Peter Carey, saying what Hughes meant (or should have meant) to Australia.
The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.
There is virtue in virtuosity, especially today, when it protects us from the tedious spectacle of ineptitude.
Truly bad art is always sincere, and there is a kind of forcible vulgarity, as American as a meatball hero, that takes itself for genius; Jacqueline Susann died believing she was the peer of Charles Dickens...
When an audience that has lost all touch with the classical background once considered indispensable in education sees Virgil written in a picture, it accepts it as a logo, like the alligator on a Lacoste shirt. The mere dropping of the name, or the citation of a tag, suggests that a classical past still lives, solid and whole, below the surface. But a toenail paring isn’t a body.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Fluctuations of intensity
The late art critic Robert Hughes is being memorialized here and there, in great part through quotations because he knew how to arrange words in good order. Here are some I especially like. They speak to all the arts and so have something to say to me as a writer: