new-york

The Bestiary

Cordier and Ekstrom Gallery

When you don’t as a rule like the idea of “theme” exhibitions built around subject matter, and then the theme in question is something you happen to dislike, chances are you aren’t going to be too receptive. This is where I find myself with regard to the show called The Bestiary at Cordier and Ekstrom. I have never liked material of this kind because in it there is an almost inevitable distraction from plastic values by fascination with the motif; in art the only subject matter more dangerous than the Interesting is the Fascinating. Works of art like these are swimming upstream, and if they get anywhere they do so only by spending inordinate esthetic effort. All fascinating art is distracting, including the pornographic—where we want to be distracted—and the grotesque—where we toy with thinking we do.

Time helps to cool off such subject matter, probably because mankind tends to forget what

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