A cultural critic and former official with the National Endowment for the Humanities examines the effects of deconstruction and postmodernism in the art world through the lens of the National Endowment for the Arts. From its promising beginnings in the late 1960's, awarding grants to painters and artists who actually maintained a commitment to excellence in their work, the NEA by the 1980s had been transformed into an unfailing advocate of ''cutting edge'' art -- read Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Annie Sprinkle, Karen Finley, Chris Ofili -- and non-traditional ''art'' forms calculated to shock the bourgeois sensibilities of most the public, while generating plenty of publicity (and revenue) for the museums and galleries sponsoring them. Munson moves beyond the impasse in the arguments between freedom of expression and accusations of blasphemy, and instead reveals the ways in which the supposed tolerance of postmodernism -- in academia and the art establishment -- is transformed into the most rigidly intolerant of regimes, once it gains the upper hand. A smart and significant expose of a whole generation of artists, art critics, and curators who have disregarded their calling to ''advance the language of art.''
An Eighth Day View:
Exploring the culture of intolerance that overtook the art world in the postmodern era, Lynne Munson shows how a new dogmatism established itself in the NEA, museums, academia, and even the artist's studio, where experimental art was favored at the expense of the traditional, and limits placed on what might be funded, exhibited, studied, and created. The subject is hot. Her tone is cool. Her case histories speak for themselves. This is a brave book. Andrew Forge, Yale School of Art. Invaluable and shockingly intelligent...Lynne Munson lays bare the new, rigid art ethic enforced by government bureaucrats and official academicians. Maggie Gallagher, Washington Times. Illustrated.