San Francisco

“Commercial Arts of the Bay Area”

San Francisco Museum of Art

Until such time as a different concept of a museum exists, the San Francisco Museum of Art, in exhibiting the industrial and graphic arts of the Bay Area is still expected to play the role of an aesthetic guide.

Suffering as we do nowadays from what may be described as coca-cola-itis, (the Jack Tar Hotel, San Francisco, is a perfect example of this diseased outlook); where nearly everything manufactured is flashy and stupid, glossy and garish, chromed and luridly colored; a continuous flow of mass produced articles which are commercially attractive, but essentially unreal. They arise out of an enormous co-ordination between money and consumption: that is artifacts deliberately made to last only as long as it takes the consumer to make more money to replace them; gadgetry and more gadgetry, where forms blindly follow forms instead of attempting to reveal those fine grains of life that are difficult to touch, yet bring things into the realm of art.

To discuss this collection of commercial trivia and tripe with critical seriousness as if it is art, is to elevate it where it does not belong. Living as we do at a time when industry continuously exploits the lowest of human values to sell its goods, when everything essentially human is subservient to commercial necessity and values, we expect not only a stand, but a lead from the Museum.

Let us not confuse the aesthetics of selling with art!

John Coplans