Lebenskünstler

The Henry Flynt Special [Part II THE ART CONNECTION]

Posted in Uncategorized by Randall Szott on 03/15/2013

THE ART CONNECTION: My endeavor’s intersections with art – Henry A. Flynt, Jr.

I can legitimately say that taking art as a the thematic axis for a chronicle of my work is not fair to the work. In the first place, from the beginning I was interested in the correlation of arts. I quickly graduated to “interdisciplinary projects” such as concept art, which had art as a precedent, but stemmed from my iconoclastic philosophy of 1960, and had outgrown art. To force my projects back into the art mold made it impossible to understand them.

From the outset, say 1958, the division of art, culture, into categories which became separate professions meant nothing to me. I simply disregarded the compartmentalization of culture, and assumed that I should pass freely among philosophy, exact science, linguistics, poetry, painting, music, whatever. Using each to illuminate the others and transferring methods from one to the other. My first “flat visual works” were precisely translations from serial music and so-called chance music. My poems also.

At some point in the first half of 1961, I completely lost interest in the “art professions,” music, painting, sculpture, poetry. My works at this time were “interdisciplinary projects” or out-of-category projects—which were shaped by my philosophical perspective, which I continued to refine throughout the spring. When I mailed Philosophy Proper, Version 3 to Carnap in 1961, he didn’t reply…

The artists whom I met through Young did not seem to be full-time artists. Only De Maria was already a “power artist”; I didn’t register it because in person he was affable and generous and because I had signed off on the art machine almost before I knew what it was. Morris, a student of Lippold at Hunter, explicitly condemned wanting to get rich and famous in a letter to Young. In other words, Morris nominally rejected the actual purpose of major public art, which is professional success. (The golden paintbrush.)

I become more and more uncomfortable that artists were offering things that intrinsically weren’t worth doing, whose only payoff was to leave the audience feeling baffled and frustrated. They were competing for social approval on that basis. They were making careers out of bluff, posture, hoodwinking the experts into giving approval for what nobody would do without the social context.

[Despite all the talk about new new new, the artistic fraternity could only deal with painting this, sculpture that. their inovation consisted in brandishing postures at each other for social effect. by definition they were intellectually vacant.

[it’s all posture, a game being played inside an elite institution, the self-important overpriviledged cognosenti, posture game or intimadation game. this cognoscenti does not have anything to say about philosophy, science, economics, government that I respect in the least.]

they were not seeking interdisciplinary or out-of-category innovation. Thus, the works which I poured myself into developing went utterly over their heads. drew a blank.

Substantial innovation, e.g. concept art, went over their heads.]

I passed from the mystique of the avant-garde to the conviction that art had a flawed premise. Cage had already said it, with a different rationale. But he didn’t mean it. [Later, Ben Vautier would deliberately use anti-art as a ploy, the collectors paid him to scam them.]

I became willing to forgo “participation.” I revived the utopianism of my cultural position. What ought to be was so far from what was socially feasible that there was no bridge between them. I chose to again emphasize what ought to be. It was a drop-out stance which combined utopian social speculation with solitary self-realization.

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  1. richardkooyman said, on 03/19/2013 at 09:38

    This dialectic denouncement can be applied to many practices and modes of thought. We could say philosophy is as removed from what most people feel is important as making a painting. One could make an argument that even science is nothing more than the ever circular ramblings of a cognoscenti perpetuating their myth of finiteness. I could equally argue that sports is nothing but a fraternity of elite physicality that means absolutely nothing. I like Flynt could boast that I have “completely lost interest ” in fashion, media, celebrity, novelists, chefs, and politics.
    Hopefully a good friend would slap me upside the face, tell me to get out of my sweat pants and at least fucking try.


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