"Why Bad Art Survives"

Notes from a lecture given by Walter Derby Bannard at UNC-CH on November 14, 1984

  • There should be an attention to art for what it is, not what it means
  • Art represents the best of us to us – to get that, you have to give art every chance you can
  • Critics – a critic should have a good eye, good grammar, and nerve. (Clement Greenburg is a good critic)
  • Critics are usually best when they don’t like something. When they do like something, they’re usually off the mark.
  • Curators don’t correct their mistakes, they stare them in the basement. Critics operate on the assumption that the public must be educated, instead of the curator.
  • Art declined when innovation became fashionable. The middle class became affluent and bought art for status, for power, rather than for its beauty and its effect on you, which is the purpose of art.
  • Good art is non-verbal, internal and personal.
  • Pleasure is nature’s way of telling you what to like. Denying it means to gobble up obligation.
  • In the 1970s, movements were crxeated instead of improved upon.
  • Beware importance.
  • Good art is puzzling, upsetting, doesn’t pander, crticizes you but doesn’t insult you or put you down or offend you, goes right to the center, hangs on.
  • Pleasure and inspiration first – analysis after.
  • Never suspend your responsibility to judgement. You’ve got to get it yourself and learn to alter your judgements. Have the inner security in being wrong to get it right.