The Art Catalog

Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

Id_meis_30_ap_001The people who put together 30,000 Years of Art: The story of human creativity across time and space were no fools. They realized that the preface, introduction, and justification would either have to be infinite or non-existent. They chose the void. Two pages into the book and you’re already looking at art. No discussion about what art is, what characteristics the works share, who chose the works, why they are representative. Nothing. There’s one brief statement running in a narrow column on the first full page. It says: “From the time when human beings can first be called human, they have felt compelled to depict themselves and their world — as gods, mortals, animals or abstractions.” It’s so broad as to say everything and therefore nothing at all.

And then the book begins in earnest. If there are ideas here, they are latent in the book itself, hiding within the explanatory text for each work and in the decisions of what to include and not to include. But despite the unwillingness to address definitions, the book itself is nothing but a massive, stupefying piece of chutzpah. Here is art, from the dawn of (human) time until today. The silence, the unwillingness to address the largeness in the claim, is either a bit of coyness, astounding self-confidence, or a form of blissful ignorance.

I prefer to think that it’s a piece of coyness.

More here.