PRINT December 1983


Guide: “There are no pictures here.”

“I see,” said the blind man.

WESTERN ART ACTUALLY HAS TWO avant-garde histories: one of artlike art, and the other of lifelike art. They’ve been lumped together as parts of a succession of movements fervently committed to innovation, but they represent fundamentally contrasting philosophies of reality.

A supposed conflict between art and life has been a theme in Western art at least since ancient Rome, resolved if at all in the dialectics of the artlike artwork. For example, Robert Rauschenberg’s statement, “Painting is related to art and life. Neither can be made. (I try to act in that gap between the two).”

Simplistically put, artlike art holds that art is separate from life and everything else, while lifelike art holds that art is connected to life and everything else. In other words, there is art at the service of art, and art at the service of life.

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