One of the problems of the weak avant-garde is in its tendency to reject the spiritual and existential origins of art itself. This dynamic can be found both among would-be “art entrepreneurs” and among progressive artists (who wrongly believe their role is to demystify art and all that surrounds it). Both, in the end, are the Thomas Gradgrinds of contemporary art.
The Austrian art critic and Marxist Ernst Fischer, building on Frederick Engels’ “The Role of Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man,” invoked art’s pre-history in his 1959 book, The Necessity of Art. Largely a polemic against the cultural policies of “communist” Eastern Europe, Fischer attempted to describe how the origins of art were “magic” – the product of a great leap forward in human consciousness. The mastery of tools produced in humans a social knowledge – the abstraction and generalization of the world.Read More