cutting edge conservatism


What should be made of the conservatism of artists such as Walton Ford and Neo Rauch, who are subjects of shows of new work in Chelsea right now?

The art world that prizes these men’s work is a self-consciously cutting-edge milieu that is far removed from political conservatism, and yet these artists’ success is thanks in no small measure to bravura displays of skill in traditional idioms, to a fond nostalgia for past worlds that produced such styles and the competence to execute them.

Pictures by Mr. Ford in particular would feel at home in a wood-paneled gentleman’s club, amid brandy, cigars, leather-bound volumes, even if right now they are to be seen in a well-lit white-cube art gallery that betokens very different cultural values.

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