Cover image for The end of art
The end of art
Kuspit, Donald B. (Donald Burton), 1935-
Publication Information:
New York : Cambridge University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 208 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6490 .K864 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In The End of Art, Donald Kuspit argues that art is over because it has lost its aesthetic import. Art has been replaced by 'postart', a term invented by Alan Kaprow, as a new visual category that elevates the banal over the enigmatic, the scatological over the sacred, cleverness over creativity. Tracing the demise of aesthetic experience to the works and theory of Marcel Duchamp and Barnett Newman, Kuspit argues that devaluation is inseparable from the entropic character of modern art, and that anti-aesthetic postmodern art is its final state. In contrast to modern art, which expressed the universal human unconscious, postmodern art degenerates into an expression of narrow ideological interests. In reaction to the emptiness and stagnancy of postart, Kuspit signals the aesthetic and human future that lies with the New Old Masters. The End of Art points the way to the future for the visual arts.

Author Notes

Donald Kuspit is one of America's most distinguished art critics. Winner of the prestigious Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism, given by the College Art Association, he is a contributing editor to Artforum, Sculpture, New Art Examiner, and Tema Celeste magazines, as well as editor of Art Criticism. Professor of Art History and Philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, he also holds honorary degrees from Davidson College, the San Francisco Institute of Arts, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Renowned art critic Kuspit's proclamation in the title of his latest book seems to come a bit after the fact. Haven't we already heard the wailing sirens from art manifestos and writers alike, including Suzi Gablik's Has Modernism Failed? (1985), Arthur Danto's After the End of Art (1998), or Hans Belting's The End of the History of Art? (1987)? This diatribe by Kuspit (The Rebirth of Painting in the Late 20th Century) might not be particularly original, but it is brave and unwavering in its opinion that art is over and "postart" (performance artist Allan Kaprow's term) is its unfortunate replacement. Many influential European thinkers like Adorno, Benjamin, and Baudelaire haunt Kuspit's cranky objections to postart, which he generalizes as commercial, running on empty, playing to the crowd, banal, unsatisfying, soulless, secular, and corrupt. Kuspit boldly blames newly resurrected 20th-century masters like Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol for the state of things today but finds glimmers of hope in the "New Old Masters" (Paula Rego, Michael David, etc.), who retain a little faith-and tradition. Recommended for larger libraries as a solid (if biased) introduction to modern and postmodern art and all its conflicted meanings.-Prudence Peiffer, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

"Who is naive enough today ... to think that the art world is not rotten, at least in part?" Certainly not Kuspit (SUNY, Stony Brook), whose sustained rant against the banality and cynicism of recent "postart" begins with Frank Stella's scathing critique of MOMA's 2001 Exhibition, "Modern Starts," and ends with a flicker of faith in the few "New Old Masters," who resist the prevailing trends. In between, each chapter focuses on a different aspect of what has been lost or abandoned in postart--significant form, aesthetic value, interest in the unconscious, and faith in art's spiritual power. Kuspit discusses influential and notorious figures, both early (most notably Marcel Duchamp, Barnett Newman, Andy Warhol) and late (Paul McCarthy, Damien Hirst, Kiki Smith), though he does not dwell on chronological developments, nor argue directly with underlying theories (as he has done elsewhere). Art ends as postart gives way to spectacle, the star system, the media, marketing, and mass values. Kuspit's relentless catalog of shallow, self-serving, and sensationalistic "postworks" has a hysterical tone of disappointed idealism--but also the ring of truth. The book contains some black-and-white reproductions; notes. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. W. B. Holmes University of Rhode Island

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
1 The Changing of the Art Guardp. 1
2 The Aesthetic Maligned: Duchamp and Newmanp. 14
3 Seminal Entropy: The Paradox of Modern Artp. 40
4 The Decline of the Cult of the Unconscious: Running on Emptyp. 89
5 Mirror, Mirror on the Worldly Wall, Why is Art No Longer the Truest Religion of All?: The God That Lost Faith in Itselfp. 143
Postscript: Abandoning and Rebuilding the Studiop. 174
Notesp. 193
Indexp. 203