And speaking of Warhol: if you like reality in your art, whether in Brillo Boxes or pickled sharks, basketballs in fish tanks or photographic painting, you might want to take a look at the upcoming Courbet show. His skillful paintings may seem ‘classical’ or ‘traditional’ (to misuse the terms) but their political jab in the ribs to respectable society should not be underestimated. Like a nineteenth-century Jerry Springer, Courbet’s great works demanded attention and got it, even if the genteel held their collective noses while doing so. And that stink is his strength. Like a true Modernist he offered this on his worth: “When I am no longer controversial, I will no longer be important.” If we are to trust the artist, we should forget him. But if there is one thing Modernism has taught us it is to never trust the artist completely. It could all be part of the art.
Metropolitan Mueseum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
ON VIEW UNTIL MAY 18
- Keith Miller
(*Image: Exhibition icon, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008)