Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Fascist Art

Most art shows stroke the museum-goer to a climax. Chaos & Classicism, at the Guggenheim, ends differently. Not in an anti-climax, but rather in a depressing one. After displaying beautiful classicizing works by the likes of Dix, Picasso, Balthus and Léger, the show leaves the rotunda and enters a room titled "The Dark Side of Classicism."  It is filled with paintings, murals and sculpture inspired by Fascism, depicting muscular warriors and heroic horsemen. At the end of the room plays the film of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, in which the Discus Thrower comes alive as a German triathlete.

The art is bad, but therein lies my dissatisfaction with an otherwise enlightening show. The equation of bad art and bad idea is too easy. It would have been far more interesting, far more complicating, to show beautiful art done by bona fide Fascists. Do such works exist? Can they?

Also saw two small sculptures by Spanish sculptor Pablo Gargallo, who appears in Marianne Moore's poem "The Pangolin." The human figures are cunningly constructed out of bent and sharp metal scraps.

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