The Dustbin of Art History

Here is an article by Ben Lewis from Prospect Magazine which draws a comparison between trends in contemporary art and mannerist art of the past which were celebrated in their time but which are no longer as highly valued. Below is an excerpt:

There is a pattern typical of these end-phase periods, when an artistic movement ossifies. At such times there is exaggeration and multiplication instead of development. A once new armoury of artistic concepts, processes, techniques and themes becomes an archive of formulae, quotations or paraphrasings, ultimately assuming the mode of self-parody.

Over the last decade, not only conceptualism—perhaps the dominant movement of the past three decades—but the entire modernist project has been going through a similar process.

I believe that this decline shares four aesthetic and ideological characteristics with the end-phases of previous grand styles: formulae for the creation of art; a narcissistic, self-reinforcing cult that elevates art and the artist over actual subjects and ideas; the return of sentiment; and the alibi of cynicism."

Image: Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog, Stainless steel with transparent color coating installed at The Palace of Versailles