A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

What’s art?

Marshall McLuhan (1970s?).  Of course …

I was chatting with the artist Eric Wesselow.  I asked him, “What is art?  He started in on the fact that etymologically, art simply means something that is made.

“Actually,” I told him, “art is what you can get away with.”

He looked somewhat taken aback.  So I asked him, “What is a portrait?  “A portrait,” I said, “is the picture of a person where there is always something wrong with the mouth.”

Me (August, 2010, age 58).  And yet …

I have always found these oddball definitions funny.  And perhaps that’s all they are.  However they also have a ring of truth.  The second calls to mind the most iconoclastic portrait in western culture – the Mona Lisa – the first has crossed the mind of anyone who has ever walked through a gallery of modern art.   At any rate the next time I go to an art gallery, I’m going to find it hard not to think of McLuhan’s definitions.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Barrington Nevitt with Maurice McLuhan, Who Was Marshall McLuhan, 1994, p. 222.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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