Short Comments on “Modernism Since Postmodernism” by Dick Higgins (selective quotes) #1

“The Artist” versus “The (Cognitive) Professional”

“But far from the cumulative sophistication being built up by an enormous quantitative exposure to an art, exhaustion sets in. The professional cannot afford to admit exhaustion, so he or she carries on in some purely analytical way, according to a cognitive scheme he or she has devised.”  Modernism Since Postmodernism, p.70

Thus, if the artist acts like a (cognitive) professional–that is, becomes numbed by repeated exposure to a certain type of art–he or she must break out  of that dead-end or risk creating mundane and derivative art. Familiarity breeds stagnation and produces bad art. To avoid the “cognitive” pitfall, the artist, according to Higgins, must “always work with something about  which he or she is naive.”  In this way, movement is initiated, and innovation may occur.  The cognitive professional lacks what the artist potentially has–an ability to work through “exhaustion” into realms of the new via an exploration of unfamiliar avenues.

Author: drewbdavid

Editor of Angry Old Man Magazine.

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