In Praise of Shortened Attention Spans

Terry Teachout explains why brevity can be a virtue in art: The latest alleged trend to set the world in a tizzy is the Crisis of Shorter Attention Spans, a dire development that has been brought about by the rise of the Internet. Or texting. Or iTunes. Or Twitter. Or whatever. I find it hard [Read More…]

Religious Art for Nonbelievers

What can nonbelievers learn from religious art? Quite a lot, says Aaron Rosen in an article in The Humanist: This is not simply to say that all religious expressions are artistic. But what religious symbols can do, more powerfully than any other, is reveal a horizon of meaning towards which art aspires: the ability to make ontological [Read More…]

The Shape of Our Buildings Shape Us

In the journal Anamnesis, Wilfred McClay has an insightful analysis of urbanism and its relationship to conservatism. McClay notes that during World War II the British House of Common was destroyed by the German air force—and Winston Churchill had a very definite opinion about how it should be rebuilt: Churchill did not have a professional [Read More…]

Dominance and Cuteness

From a review of Sianne Ngai’s Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting: Ngai positions cuteness as a particular kind of affective response to a lack of agency — in order to judge something cute you first have to feel your own dominance in relation to it. This dominance may take the form of a desire [Read More…]

What Do Saints’ Bones and Duchamp’s Urinal Have in Common?

Why do art collectors pay millions of dollars for works that have no apparent material value? In a lengthy and rambling essay, Matthew Brown makes a persuasive case that the market for modern art can be traced back to the tradition of relic-adoration: Prior to the Renaissance, and even during it, the supreme objects of popular and [Read More…]