Meet Libertarian Artists


From Sunday's New York Times' profile of art-throbs Rachel Feinstein and John Currin, a.k.a. "The Art World's Ruling Couple":

"We're famous for supposedly being crazy right-wing Republicans," Ms. Feinstein said. "I've had fights with people at art openings about it. I once had an art critic say to me, 'If you get your way, it will become like "The Road" ' — that Cormac McCarthy book! I just think that in no society should there be one ruling party. And in New York, there's way too much of the Democrats — we've got to have a little bit of something else."

On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being full-blown right-winger and 10 being full-tilt left-winger, they put themselves more or less in the middle, both of them espousing an essentially libertarian agenda. And both are quick to wonder why it's a given that an artist should have liberal leanings when, if making art is a consummately individual expression, a libertarian bent seems a natural choice.

"What we're talking about is this idea that artists are supposed to be critical of the capitalist art world and the free-market art world — that there is supposed to be some underlying shame in that. It used to be a lot worse, but these days, everyone is co-opted."

Can you imagine? Wealthy, successful artists who "defy others' expectations of how artists should look and live." More power to them.

And how does the Times respond to the couple's pronouncement—pretty clear—of being libertarian? In the next paragraph, the writer writes, "Because of their conservative stance, it's easy to think of the couple a bit old-fashioned" (emphasis added). Got that?

Read more here.

The supposed irremediable opposition between capitalism and art is, needless to say, one of the biggest crocks of shit ever sold; luckily about the only people who buy it are critics and artists who tend to become less interesting over time. I don't subscribe to Wallace Stevens' pronouncement that there's a difference between appreciating art and owning it (and he was a huge collector), but the neo-Romantic posture that art and capitalism are mortal enemies is just stupid (and, interestingly, at odds with the classical liberal leanings of Romantics such as Shelley).

For more Reason coverage of how commerce and culture are often the best of buds, go here.