The new Janson: Camille Paglia on her forthcoming survey of art history


While writing, she conceived of her readers as falling into two camps. The first includes students who are turned off by the postmodernist, post-structuralist view of art history that she believes they are being force-fed in school. The second, more surprisingly, is made up of “the home-schooling moms whose voices I hear on AM talk radio,” she said. Because many are churchgoing, she has emphasized “the spirituality of art and of the artistic mission” throughout, especially with abstractionists like Mondrian and Pollock. (…)

You also suspect that Ms. Paglia may be railing against art as it is taught in universities rather than as it exists in the real world. She remains infuriated that the art world defended the Brooklyn Museum’s 1999 “Sensation” show, which included a depiction of a Madonna figure that incorporated elephant dung, after Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani denounced it. (Ms. Paglia deemed the piece, by the Nigerian-British artist Chris Ofili, a Turner Prize winner, to be “a very second-rate, third-rate, no, fourth-rate work.”) “That’s where the art world committed hara-kiri,” she said.

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