Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
State of the Arts: From Bezalel to Mapplethorpe Paperback – April 1, 1991
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
Gene Edward Veith (PhD, University of Kansas) serves as the provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College, where he also oversees both academic affairs and student affairs. He previously worked as the culture editor of World magazine. Veith and his wife, Jackquelyn, have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
Marvin Olasky (PhD, University of Michigan) is the editor in chief of World magazine, holder of the distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College, and senior fellow of the Acton Institute. He was previously a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, a Boston Globe reporter, and a Du Pont Company speechwriter. He is the author of twenty books and more than 3,500 articles. He and his wife, Susan, have four sons.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
This book is a worthy read because Veith at least gives the definition of art a good shot. I just think his view is a little narrow.
As a painter, I also found the chapter "Art and the Church" both encouraging and challenging. Dr Veith points to the centrality of the Word of God and the limitations of art & aesthetics compared to the Gospel. Very helpful.
I do not find Dr Veith's critique of the Art World to be too extreme, or as un-compassionate as a previous reader does. Considering the overall context of this book, it seems to me that Dr Veith emphasizes the high standard and purpose of Scripture for the arts, and invites Christians to join in on embracing these truths.
With that said, there are some reasons "State of the Arts" should not be regarded as a guidebook for an Evangelical entry into the world of art. Because it was written shortly after the Mapplethorpe and NEA controversy, Veith's weakly cloaked hostility runs through book like a greased pig. While I do believe that his engagement with the art world was sincere, his frequent lapses into name-calling and stereotyping only hurt his credibility and call into question his objectivity. I suppose some examples are due:
1) According to Veith, the art patrons who refuse to be shocked by Mapplethorpe "think, How interesting. They experience the exquisite pleasure of feeling sophisticated, of belonging to an elite group who "gets it," while looking down on those who do not. The outrage or bewilderment of those outside the art world only increase their smugness at being on the cutting edge." (p. 20)
Here, Veith is perpetuating two myths that must be countered. One, the art world is not an homogeneous group of rich snobs who "feel sophisticated" and laugh at those who are excluded from their arty antics. On the contrary, it is widely diverse so as to preclude any attempt at unification. The plurality is mind-boggling. Two, not everyone in the cultural elite "refused to be shocked." By incessantly referring to `these people' as the type that uncritically accept shock-art, Veith reveals his ignorance of the vast amount of art criticism written on such works and the wide verity of responses given. He might be surprised at what he finds. Such errors and offenses caused by Veith's concealed anger are common in this book.
2) Because Veith is not adequately familiar with art criticism, philosophy of art, nor modern and contemporary art history, his account of art world practices is embarrassingly bizarre.
Apparently, in minimalist art, "the concept claims precedence over artfulness. Technical execution and crafting of an object becomes less important than having a clever idea. The urinal installed on a museum wall, Warhol's Brillo boxes, the signed bicycle wheel -such pieces show no artistic qualities, nor do they intend to. They may be humorous, or clever, or suggestive of the nature of contemporary culture, but they can hardly be considered good art. To judge them so, ironically, is to miss the artist's point and fail to see the joke." (p. 51)
One not need to be familiar with the works, artists, and movements Veith attempts to explain in these awkward statements, but it is important to recognize that he has conflated artworks ranging over a seventy year period, on two continents, in three different historical contexts. Yet Veith sees them all as having a single covert, unified, devious purpose. One wonders how such artists and movements collaborated under such spacio-temporal restrictions. Rather, it would be more helpful to consult any dictionary of art or art history text to find a more reliable diagnosis than Veith has provided.
3) Because Veith is more interested in writing a polemic against (his perception of) the art world than sensitively engaging with art, he inadvertently contradicts himself in different places.
"Minimalism-finding the least possible gesture to constitute a work of art -has been fashionable in modern art, but such a movement is negligible aesthetically. The more a form is pared down, the less there is to evaluate." (p. 50) Yet Veith has no trouble evaluating and praising the aesthetic merits of work that is itself minimalist (p. 185 and 189). This is because, no doubt, the makers of the work are Christians. This aesthetic duplicity in Veith is unfortunate. The real criterion being used in his "aesthetic judgment" is the theology of the artist, which begs the question of understanding art from a Christian point of view.
These criticism of "State of the Arts" are strong, but apt in my estimation. I urge those who seek engagement with art to do so under the guidance of either Hans Rookmaaker or Leland Ryken who have more expertise in art criticism while maintaining a strong evangelical faith. As one who attempts to integrate education in theology with training in fine art, I've found them both to be most helpful and worthy of consultation.