“Less is More”

SO, LET’S SEE — if “less is more” then does this mean that “nothing” is the most? Hmmmmm. Doesn’t sound right, does it? Yet — we have seen that a one-color canvas can bring in more bucks that a meticulously detailed streetscene, haven’t we? So how come we are willing to spend more on a constantly diminishing return? And, we need not even talk about politicians with “empty” promises reaping the poshest positions, do we? At times, I get the notion that the “less is more” mantra really means that we get “less” and simply pay “more”. Now this might not mean a great deal to a whole lot of people — I mean, after all, how many people really care about art, artists, and the artworld. Oh sure, we do — that’s why I’m writing this and why you’re reading it. We’re interested, involved; some of us even have an investment in it (I used that word purposely, since, for many, that’s what “art” is all about anyway — an “investment” — I don’t gotta understand it — or even like it — all I have to do is sit on it until what’s-his-name’s signature goes up even higher and then unload it at some auction. Art’s a commodity man — forget about all that aesthetics nonsense — we all know where “beauty” resides). But — and today this is a hard sell — some of us do care about the aesthetics, about beauty, about civilized taste, about an enhancement of the spirit. We do care about the “dumbing down” of America, about our publicly blatant lack of — well — culture. Yeah, yeah — I also know that other countries are imitating us, swallowing our “artful” exports wholesale…but in my travels, at least, in my nosing around and asking questions when I visit Europe, for example, I have found that not everybody is exactly pleased about the stuff we are exporting. I’m old enough to remember when “made in China — or Japan” meant that it was junk, pure and simple (although it seems that China is once again back to its old tricks of foisting inferior products on unwary “foreign devils” — “foreign devils” — that’s us for any younger readers that might have blundered onto this blog). But folks, here’s the thing — you might not give a hoot about art, artists, and the artworld, but when you begin “dumbing down” in one area, the blight tends to spread. When Harold Bloom accused the educational facilities of “dumbing down America” by applying the “less is more” policy to educating college students, he was talking about the gradual decline of general intelligence — but it doesn’t stop there, does it? Been shopping lately? Picked up any over-the-counter medicines that have just hit the FDA taboo list? Or, for that matter, prescription drugs? How about work around the house? Had any contractors over that appear to know less than you do about repairs? And how about the work — substantial? Or did you wish that you went to Lowe’s or Home Depot and ­had done it yourself…only to find out that some products were sub-standard — or “less means more”? I could go on with this ad nauseam but you get the point. You gotta hand it to those art promoters, though — what a slogan! “Less is more” — bet they didn’t have much trouble rounding up a whole lot of artists willing to go for the ride. Do less and get more? Only in America…you gotta love it!

Raymond J. Steiner


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