Kevin MacDonald: Michael Colhaze on Art

Kevin MacDonald: I want to welcome new writer Michael Colhaze to TOO. His current article — written with elegance and passion — is a worthy successor to Lasha Darkmoon’s earlier TOO articles on the pathologies of the art world. Colhaze points out that becoming a famous artist is like winning a lottery where only psychopaths need bother to enter:

Among thousands of candidates, both academics or naturals, all waiting eagerly for a hint from the established Modern art Mafia, now and then one is chosen. Since he is, just like his many contenders, about as gifted as a bedbug, nobody with a sane mind would assume that considerations of artistic merit ever played a part. What counts is a rigorous talent for self-representation, unfettered by the smallest grain of aesthetics or ethics, an inborn and unlimited vulgarity, and the stated objective to be the most ruthless Judas Iscariot to the Fine Arts that ever set foot on our sacred earth.

This lottery of the psychopaths has special import for Colhaze because his son is entering into the field of art. It must be especially difficult for a parent to deal with the prospects of a son entering a field where artistic talent is not rewarded and where success is determined by a whimsical elite whose only prerequisite is psychopathy among the lucky few whom they promote.

Similar thoughts, with slight variations (e.g., a son who wants to become a professor in the humanities or social sciences where cultural Marxism is de rigueur), must be on the minds of many parents who realize that the prospects of their children are severely compromised in a culture gone mad.

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15 Comments to "Kevin MacDonald: Michael Colhaze on Art"

  1. whodareswings's Gravatar whodareswings
    February 9, 2010 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens had day jobs as a physician and an insurance executive respectively. They were all about European ‘modernism” of which Ezra Pound was a pioneer practitioner. Pound is inscrutable now because the Classics aren’t taught anymore. The beats popularized the Williams and Stevens brand of watered down American “modernist” poetry and then terrible singers, but creative tunesmiths, like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen came along after the beats and infused their pop music with the last vestiges the “modernist” legacy. Now poetry is some kind of an identity politics hobby craft crossed with therapy. It’s practiced at weekend workshops run by nomadic poetry facilitators. It seemed exciting once. Now it’s the last lonely butter pat in an empty cafeteria. When Lawrence Ferlinghetti dies (which is any day now) American poetry will have a big going out of business sale and then move to Miami.

  2. chubby's Gravatar chubby
    February 7, 2010 - 6:03 pm | Permalink


    I wonder if there just is no market for poetry anymore. The audience is very small and the number of people who can differentiate between good and bad poetry is even smaller. As for myself, try as I did I never developed a taste or appreciation of TS Eliot. Wallace Stevens was better, but neither were the kind of stuff I would buy if I had not been made to in college. And these among others were considered top poets.

    It made me wonder if the success of poets in the twentieth century is not due more to good publicists rather than talent. Fiction and non-fiction book length works will sell even in the absence of wide publicity if the topics and stories are interesting. Good publicists help alot of course, but there is much a bigger market.

  3. Mo's Gravatar Mo
    February 6, 2010 - 9:00 pm | Permalink

    They were all against Pound. I have a biography of Delmore Schwartz at hand. “he unleashed a furious attack on Allen Tate for awarding the bollengin prize to Pound….he accused William Empson of being a traitor to England for praising the choice of prize.”

    On another subject, it says “he broke off ties with Paul Goodman (another poet) saying ‘no doubt you will go on corrupting young boys, turning them into fags like yourself’.”

    He associated with many of the neoconservatives.

    Not such a great guy, after all.

  4. whodareswings's Gravatar whodareswings
    February 6, 2010 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    re Pound and Bollingen Foundation prize for poetry. It was Karl Shapiro who was the only Jew on Bollingen committee who mounted the protest against Pound. It’s in his autobiography and, true to form, he not only railed against Pound, but against all of the WASPs on the committee who voted for Pound which IRCC was everyone but him. Shapiro had been a GI and the GIs got indoctrinated early in the Holocaust via OSS/Signal Corps training films.

  5. whodareswings's Gravatar whodareswings
    February 6, 2010 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been immersed in the arts since high school. I ran away from home in the summer of l965 to Berkeley to be a beatnik poet. I realized there was more money in art so I combined my callow poetry with painting and eventually dropped the poetry altogether and pursued a career in the visual arts which I
    have practiced ever since. I don’t teach. I have survived, albeit very frugally and without a family, by making and selling art since that summer day I landed on Telegraph Ave. So. I’m pretty well versed in art as a result of this ongoing struggle and I just want to say that I feel completely at odds with 95% of my confreres in this profession who are, for lack of a better description, cultural Marxists.

    They believe so staunchly in all the liberal pieties that art for them has become some kind of a self-abnegating mystery religion with themselves at the bottom of a career pyramid topped off by tenured professors, gallerists, collectors, critics, consultants, interior decorators, cultural bureaucrats and foundation managers.

    Everybody is an artist, or an expert now. Art in the service of social engineering is what you get when your city decides it needs something for its public spaces to inspire. But whatever this something turns out to be it can’t offend so it doesn’t say anything. Public art used to be heroic but it has become trim, the detailing and decoration that used to be left to the architects at then of the project. Aside from an investment and a status symbol, trim is what art’s function is for most people in the private sector, too.

    But I don’t want to be a whiner here. Insted, if you are not already familiar with his oquvre let me introduce you to a contemporary Norwegian master painter who left Sweden for Iceland because (and I only heard this) he couldn’t abide by Sweden’s multiculturalism any longer. His name is Odd Nerdrum and he is best known for his huge paintings of a post apocalyptic world peopled with beleaguered tribesmen from somewhere in the North.

  6. Tom Watson's Gravatar Tom Watson
    February 6, 2010 - 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Jenness Cortez paints the classics as the background for her still lifes:

  7. chief's Gravatar chief
    February 6, 2010 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    The last best hope for a resurgence of qulity art is in the commercial sphere particularly gaming. My son is applying to various program pertaining to this type of conceptual development art for the industry and the quality of the curriculum is very high and very classical.

    My feeling is that many of those going through those programs will not end up making their fortune in the industry bu perhaps will go into teaching other grassroots organizations that stress representational art with classical foundations.

  8. Tom Watson's Gravatar Tom Watson
    February 5, 2010 - 4:50 pm | Permalink
  9. Flossie's Gravatar Flossie
    February 5, 2010 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    Jeez, what a shyster. This upside-down business became all the rage back in the ’70s and ’80s as an instruction method, especially in beginning drawing classes. Drawing something upside down forced the student to consider the object more… objectively, without the brain interpolating extraneous info. There were many “Teach Yourself”-type books written in this vein. This guy is just another shyster trying to gain acclaim by inserting himself into — and perverting — a field where he has no actual talent. Typical.

  10. February 5, 2010 - 6:50 am | Permalink

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  11. Mo's Gravatar Mo
    February 5, 2010 - 2:13 am | Permalink

    I shouldn’t have written “Jewish billionaries”, just “billionaires”. I didn’t mean to suggest anything racist.

  12. Mo's Gravatar Mo
    February 5, 2010 - 1:31 am | Permalink

    A very well-written article by Colhaze. I wonder, however, if we are not reading too much into the decrement of modern art. Rather than a plot against western civilization, could this just be a game among art critics to defraud harebrained Jewish billionaires? I saw a documentary about the absurdity of modern art. They mockingly interviewed the woman who had paid six figures for the “piece” consisting of urinals hanging in clear view and she seemed genuinely humiliated and embarassed. It’s the same game as securities fraud; you hype an artist and the value shoots up and you sell high.

    Is there a plot against poetry? Now that’s the question I would like to see answered. The sales of poetry books dropped precipitously in the 1950s. The conventional wisdom is that the advent of TV killed poetry. But curiously, it did not have the same effect on the fictional novel, which would seem a contradiction.

    Similar to the plastic arts, Jews have not shown the ability to compete in poetry like in music or sciences. Despite a veritable swarm of aspiring Jewish poets in the early 20th century, they have only produced a handful of good poets, such as Delmore Schwartz, Karl Shapiro, Kunitz. Good, but decidedly minor poets. Nothing remotely like a Frost or a Jeffers.

    Now, not only are the princes of 20th century poetry, Pound and Eliott, not Jewish, but they were–Oh God!–anti-semites! Delmore Schwartz led a coalition to prevent Pound from receiving a lucrative poetry award, the Bolinger prize, unsuccessfully. The story of how Pound was incarcerated by FDR for 10 years without trial is well known to TOO readers. Many Jewish anthologists and professors will not even acknowledge these two.

    Here we have a situation similar to visual art, where Jews are less able to compete, while the competition is the blackest form of evil, in their eyes. Their motivation to nix poetry as a respected intellectual endeavor would seem enormous. I have long wondered if the marginalization of poetry since the 1950s had not something to do with their “long march” through the academic institutions. I don’t have the intellectual chops to research such a topic, but I bet it would be a great thesis for someone.

  13. me's Gravatar me
    February 4, 2010 - 6:37 pm | Permalink

    there are plenty of representational painters making a living today there is a groundswell, grassroots movement to revive the academy…..
    i wouldn’t be so pessimistic.

    yes to be favored by the Upper East Side, written up by stein and lebonowitz in the nyt/wap is another story but produce great art and make a living at it…it can be done. Michael Colhaze is perhaps on the other side of the pond or maybe the UK is even more wacked than us.. but both his, nor Darkmoons (brilliant as they were ) are a little too pessmistic on this point.

  14. Andrew's Gravatar Andrew
    February 4, 2010 - 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh my gosh! When I read the article, I realized that in first grade, I made a painting very much like the upside-down painting. I am sure that mom has it stashed in her attic somewhere with my old spelling tests and homemade Valentines cards. I never knew such things could be worth so much money. I will be rich, rich I tell you! Woo hoo!

  15. Tom Watson's Gravatar Tom Watson
    February 4, 2010 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Kevin, if you want to look at some art produced by those with, shall we say, mental health problems:

    Fascinating art done by outsiders, the un-schooled, and those with mental illness of varying degrees.

Comments are closed.