Depressing convo with a couple of young people. They both agreed that Gauguin and Modigliani are “porny”, said of course with a strong tone of disapproval. In fact the Metropolitan Museum was censured as a place of “titillation” – too many nekkid ladies. Gets people worked up. Especially dudes.
I admit the titillation but unlike my young friends, I strongly approve of it.
In the same exchange “cultural appropriation” was greatly deplaaared. Picasso’s use of “African” masks (where in Africa, exactly?) was somehow mixed up with the painter’s own well-known oafish womanizing. It all added up to him being a bad guy and his work anathema. I’ve never been a big Picasso fan myself, so this is no skin off my neck, but the basis seems all wrong.
I admit the cultural appropriation and applaud it. Culture is all about theft. Steal away!
Speaking as a child of the Sixties, I really wonder how we got ourselves into this priggish, puritanical, pleasure- and play-hating frame of mind. So what if I emerge from the Met with a boner? What’s wrong with a boner? At my age, they occur about as often as lunar eclipses, but for just that reason I don’t take them for granted.
We seem to have a rather uncomfortable relationship with our ordinary human bodies and their humble but sometimes urgent needs.
Where on earth does this come from? Why do we have to do this to ourselves?
For my young interlocutors, it seemed to be connected somehow with feminism. Modigliani exploits women, so away with Modigliani.
I was around for the blossoming of “second-wave” feminism in the 1970s, and even then there were sex-friendly and sex-inimical tendencies. The latter seem to have won out, at least at the level of respectable culture, and maybe this is because the urgent need of bourgeois society is, precisely, the repression of human nature and its weeping anarchic impulses.
In aid of productivity or some shit.