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Continuing on about ” Yes, but is it art? “

June 8, 2014

THOMAS Mc EVILLEY

Professor of art history, Rice University;

Contributing editor, Artforum magazine

The last time I was in Houston, I went to a place called Medina Center, where someone had set up posts as in a back yard with laundry hung all over. I immederately knew it was an artwork because of where it was. If I had seen it hanging in someone’s yard, I would not have known whether it was art, written about in an art magazine, exhibited in a museum or bought by a private collector.

It seems pretty clear by now that more or less anything can be designated as art. The question is,has it been called art by the so called art system?

In our century , that’s all that makes it art. As this century draws to a close it looks ever more Duchampian. But suppose Duchamp didn’t have Andre Breton as his flack; most of his work could be dismissed as trash left behind by some crank.

What‘s hard for people to accept is that issues of art are just as difficult as issues of molecular biology; you cannot expect to open up a page on molecular biology and understand it. This is the hard news about art that irritates the public. If people are going to be irritated by that, they just have to be irritated by that.

 

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