Something is Happening in The Art World, and the Establishment Hates It-Part 1

“Rider” Richard Bledsoe acrylic on canvas 18″ x 18″


“All art intuitively apprehends coming changes in the collective unconsciousness.” –Carl Jung

The most common response I get when I tell people I’m an artist is a confession.

Some people are pretty direct. “I don’t like art. A lot of that stuff looks to me like a three year old did it,” they say, incredulous at the memory of some baffling piece of modernity previously encountered. Others may be a bit more sheepish. “I don’t get art,” they’ll say, averting their eyes. It’s a polite way to avoid implying I must be some kind of weirdo.

My response such statements is often a surprise to them. “Of course you appreciate art,” I say. “The problem is, so much of the ‘art’ you’ve been exposed to these days to isn’t really art at all.”

The sad truth of it is the visual arts are undergoing a crisis of relevance. Based on decades of ideologically driven mismanagement, the art world has marginalized itself. Art barely registers in the consciousness of the general public, apart from the occasional reports of a record-breaking auction price, or the latest drummed-up controversy regarding some obscene or ridiculous offering by a publicity-starved artist. In their daily lives, most people experience no connection with contemporary art at all.

The mass audience has turned away, instinctually rejecting the superficial and nihilistic aspects of contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class. Instead of being reverenced as a communion for all, contemporary art is being treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes. Officially sanctioned art is all too often is based on theoretical formal matters and sociological notions designed to exclude, rather than engage, the general public. Practically no one is paying attention other than a small bubble of artists, academics, culture institution apparatchiks, trophy-hunting high rollers, and those who wish to vicariously participate in their presumed sophistication. Focus is almost exclusively on just a few major markets around the world. Any art from outside their tight little cabal is treated as non-existent; through their powers of finance and institutional control, this self-serving, out-of-touch elite presume to dictate art matters for the entire world.

Jung’s quote above has been proven accurate given the direction of our culture over the last few decades. The elitist art world can be seen as an effective microcosm of trends in society our governing class is salivating over. Their agenda is to create a new aristocracy of the well-connected. It doesn’t matter if the results of their stewardship suck, as long as they remain in charge of it all. This is the world they are trying to steer the rest of us into, using their control over the media, government, education and our cultural institutions to relentlessly push towards their predetermined results: unaccountable power, concentrated in the hands of a few players in a highly exclusive network.

The art world was an early causality of the Post Modern mentality, theoretical notions that can be reduced to a kind a magical thinking: all things are relative; words create reality; holding the correct intentions and attitudes can justify anything. Real art doesn’t fit into the establishment’s agenda; in fact, it’s a threat to the entire plan. Art provides powerful resources to individuals–the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty, the opportunity to express an inner vision while touching on eternal values. The elites know they need to enforce a monopoly of thought in order for their skewed ideas to be accepted. Any dissent from their agenda must be suppressed.

The contemporary art world cultivated by the self-anointed elite is largely a decoy, a misdirection away from real artistic concerns to a flashy simulation of art. What is offered is not art but artifice, an intellectual approximation of art which mimics its outer forms without participating in any of its true substance. Such falsity is poisoning our whole culture, weakening us all, preparing us for our anticipated submission to our new masters.

But Jung’s quote also applies to a new spirit that is spontaneously erupting around the world in reaction to the decadence encouraged by our elites. One of the most prevalent radical movements against the elitist art world’s tyranny of consensus are known as the Stuckists.

(See Something Is Happening in the Art World Part 2: Enter the Stuckists)


Richard Bledsoe is a Phoenix, Arizona painter and writer.  (Stay tuned for Part 2)

This article originally appeared in The Western Free Press

1 Comment

  1. Richard wobbe

    This is one of the coolest paintings on this page! Great article, I’ll look for part 2!

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