Don’t miss this week’s New York Times Op Ed by Denis Dutton: “Has Conceptual Art Jumped the Shark Tank?” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/opinion/16dutton.html?pagewanted=1&em.
Dutton is a professor of the philosophy of art at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution, who takes a skeptical look at the long-term investment value of conceptual artwork.
In his editorial, Dutton questions whether conceptual art, i.e., work we admire not for skillful hands-on execution by the artist, but for the artist’s creative concept, has staying power. Human beings have a permanent, innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts, observes Dutton, while the appreciation of contemporary conceptual art depends not on recognizable skill, but “on how the work is situated in today’s intellectual zeitgeist.” Dutton’s prediction: “Future generations, no longer engaged by our art ‘concepts’ and unable to divine any special skill or emotional expression in the work, may lose interest in it as a medium for financial speculation and relegate it to the realm of historical curiosity.” Not to worry. “There are plenty of prodigious artists at work in every medium, ready to wow us with surprising skills,” concludes Dutton. We agree.