The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Monster of Irony (1990)

New York Times, October 14, 1990. Letter to the editor.

Monster of Irony

To the Editor:

An artistic avant-garde does not consist of artists breaking taboos. It consists of artists doing something new to make their art better.

This new and better avant-garde art often has been disturbing, and that fact has been twisted into the misconception that avant-garde art is disturbing and that is how you know it is good. That is, if it looks new and if it disturbs you, you had better like it or at least not criticize it or you will miss out and look foolish like those who criticized Cézanne or Pollock. In this frame of mind we have created that monster of irony, the avant-garde establishment.

Just like any other establishment, the avant-garde establishment promotes establishment art and rejects nonestablishment art. We have a number of superior artists who are doing new and unfamiliar things to make their art better, but they are working in traditional mediums and forms that are not currently establishment mediums and forms, so they get rejected.

The establishment always goes for the wrong art and it always will. It is the same now as it was 100 years ago. Only the art has changed.

Coral Gables, Fla.