Archives for posts with tag: Big Dharma

“Is Ai Wei Wei a political artist or an artful politician?” wondered Peter Schjeldahl in the pages of The New Yorker – he released an extremely silly video of himself mugging and dancing to the Korean pop juggernaut “Gangnam Style.” It’s not exactly the comportment one expects of the world’s foremost political artist and dissident.


 discard art of social politics for an unavoidable acceptance of late-capitalism; make a lot of money

In 1979 art critic Achille Bonito Oliva coined a new term Transavantguadia (or “Beyond the Avant Garde”) to describe a group of young Italian artists he saw as “moving beyond” the conceptual and politically-driven work predominant in Italian modernism through the late ‘60s and ‘70s. This loosely gathered group of artists included Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino and Sandro Chia amongst others, whose work can be viewed as a rejection of political or ideological messages in a work, and a revival/return to traditional painting techniques and the subjective, impressionist touch of the romantic painter.

Where will this ‘metabolization’ of images take Chia? One wonders if the return to classicism as a rebuke to conceptual art’s “progress for progress’s sake” remains more than conservativeness or is actually able to maintain an active relationship through the “depolitization” of the canvas thirty years later. Isn’t the Transavantgarde’s gesture to “go beyond” simply emblematic of a postmodernizing trend of art in the 80s: to discard art of social politics for an unavoidable acceptance of late-capitalism? In seeking to surpass the conceptual avant-garde, Chia’s work remixes images at will (simulacra), while apolitically affirming subjectivity and individuality all in a fairly lucrative and stable mode. We can take pleasure in the self-exploration taking place through these works while also acknowledging their status as the harbinger of Art as an socially uncritical commodity. As his son stated, Chia “quotes the greats from history, makes a lot of money. ”2

1 Benson, Timothy, review: The New Art of Italy, Cinncinatti. The Burlington Review, Mar. 1986
2 Interview with author, 11/24/09

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