THE IRRESPONSIBLE ARTS by William Snaith

THE IRRESPONSIBLE ARTS

KIRKUS REVIEW

From a few highbrows (e.g. Ortega) to most middlebrows (e.g. John Canaday), the so-called dehumanization of the arts has been deplored, diagnosed and despaired over. Architect William Snaith, president of the Loewy organization, now adds his eremiad, a metallic bit of denunciatory prose tinkling with summing-up sentences, as found practically on the first page: ""Art has become obsessed with originality, troubled by an advancing technology; it has destroyed its disciplines and turned its back on man."" The attack then is against modernism, once justly revolutionary, now merely the New Snobbery or the New Establishment. Snaith covers painting, architecture, literature, music, housing, the metropolis and so forth. He is full of thumbnail thematics; regeneration through degradation (Baudelaire to Burroughs), post-war disillusionment and Dada, abstraction and impenetrability (Rothko and Kline, Satie and Stravinsky), the cult of the absurd or the unesthetic (Jarry, junk sculpture, Park Avenue's glass caves), muddled mandarins as taste-makers (the Modern Art Museum, Lincoln Center). In short, our artists breaking with tradition and entranced with alienation have turned from historical or visionary concerns to a self-defeating novelty-hunt, to the private and perverse. Such gloomy commonplaces are half redeemed by a lively, learned earnestness and a few fairly funny tales.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1964
Publisher: theneum