Tiffany B. Brown

On art movements and outsiders

The myth of an avant-garde serves the same market forces avant-gardism pretends to overthrow. Art may challenge authority … But art doesn’t actually overthrow anything except itself, and never has, not in 19th-century France or 20th-century Russia or 21st-century China or Iran. Even when it manages to tilt popular thinking, it still ends up within the bounds of existing authority, and there has never been a true “outside” that really stayed outside: public consumption, by definition, adapts to the change, co-opts and normalizes all culture.

That’s Michael Kimmelman in his April 18th New York Times column, “D.I.Y. culture.”

A nice counterpoint in some ways to the Mira Schor quote I posted yesterday.

Kimmelman’s main point, however, is about how culture survives and thrives as a marker of ethnic and national identity in the face of the globalization.

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