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When the Picasso exhibition was showing at the Art Gallery of NSW a number of years back, I accompanied Mrs Flysa despite my misgivings, which proved to be well-founded. The abstract paintings were stereotyped and uninspiring, and the relatively few attempts at portraiture appeared amateurish. The term sacred cow came to mind, It was a relief to escape and view the magnificent works of the masters in nearby rooms. By comparison, The Sons of Clovis by Evariste Vital Luminaisand The Defence of Rorke's Drift by Alphonse de Neuville, were as day is to night compared to Picasso.

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Painting of the Battle of Rorke's Drift which took place in Natal during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879. De Neuville based the painting on eyewitness accounts and it depicts several events of the battle occurring at once. 

A few years previously, I had journeyed to Canberra to view an exhibition of the impressionist painters in the National Gallery of Australia.  Once again I was unimpressed. The paintings seemed to be the work of starving artists of Montmartre, who resorted to indistinct brushstrokes as they lacked the nutrition or ability to paint properly. To cap it all off, I went into an adjoining room to have a look at Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock, acquired to much fanfare and debate in the 1970s by the Whitlam Government for $1.3 million. To me, it looked like streaks of blue paint on bird feathers. It is a huge canvas and was painted on the floor by Pollock when he was pissed. It even has his footprint on it. Today it is said to be worth more than $100 million.

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Then of course there is the Archibald Prize which is a prize for portraiture painted by an Australian resident. While a few entries have some semblance of a genuine likeness, most are of kindergarten standard, which is being kind. The fifty-five 2020 final attempts which are available for viewing online, are enough to make you believe you are living in the twilight zone.

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The point I am making is that people will believe anything, provided those with an agenda tell them stridently and frequently enough. But this is not confined to paintings. Take music. As I wrote in a previous article, the popular songs of the 40s and 50s were melodious and had nice lyrics which could be understood by the listeners. The songs of the pop culture of today are no more than unintelligible caterwauling. The one time of the year when musical sanity reigns is Christmas. Then you hear Bing Crosby singing songs such as White Christmas and Come All Ye Faithful. You don't hear much Lady Gaga played in the supermarkets at Yuletide.

 

I think that we are all dreaming of a Christmas, just like the one we used to have before.  We are dreaming of a life just like the one we had before. We are dreaming of a life when:

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,

WHITE CHRISTMAS

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

Just like the ones we had with Ming

Where the white race governs

Not witches covens

And Moseley’s praises we did sing

I'm dreaming of a White  Christmas

With every Christmas card I write

May your days be merry and bright

And may all our Christmases be Right

It is the same with poetry. The modern stuff seldom rhymes, often lacks metrical pattern, and cannot hold a candle to the works of Tennyson and Keats, who were masters of writing in blank verse

 

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Much of the so-called modern sculpture is junk recovered from garbage tips, such as old bicycles and toasters spot welded together, and given names such as “Reclining Nude” or “Mother and Child”. There is even a “sculpture" of two giant matchsticks on the grass in the Domain behind the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

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A few years back I visited the so-called MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) which is a short ferry ride from Hobart.  It is built into the sides of a cliff, has no windows, and must be accessed through three levels of spiral staircases to the bottom, from which you have to work your way up.  I found it appalling as it is obsessed with sacrilege, death, sex, and human feces in its exhibits.  On the way up to make my escape, I looked into a so-called library.  It was composed of bookcases filled with books of blank white pages.

Michael Connor of the conservative magazine Quadrant wrote:

MONA is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation. Display lights and taste and stunning effects illuminate moral bankruptcy. What is highlighted melds perfectly with contemporary high fashion, design, architecture, cinema. It is expensive and tense decay.

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With these “tours de force” comes the adulation of the literati. Few dare to criticise for fear of being branded a philistine. For far too long we have been convinced by those who can't to believe that they can and that junk they produce is in fact art.  It is time for Hans Christian Andersen's child to exclaim that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.  Sadly, in the words of Lord Tennyson, that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

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