View Poll Results: Should "degenerate" art be banned, in your opinion?

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  • Yes, it should be banned.

    43 37.39%
  • No, it shouldn't be banned.

    56 48.70%
  • Other opinion/I want to see the votes.

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Thread: Should "Degenerate Art" Be Banned?

  1. #101
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    Interesting that almost 11 years later, this thread is still active.

    Anyway, both sides have interesting points, but I'm still a little bit unsure about the question. With some forms of art it's clear. Most peoples seem to agree on content like violence, sexual exhibitionism, extreme disrespect or cruelty. Also most peoples agree that some content is too sensitive to be exposed to children. That's pretty clear. But where is the limit? Here an example to illustrate what I mean:

    This is Poppy, an eccentric YouTube user which some define as modern art:







    Personally, I think it's a little bit silly, but I wouldn't go as far as to ban her either. She's not producing the classical form of art, but she's also not defaming someone, or advocating violent or illegal actions. She also has millions of viewers and followers. So, maybe I don't understand her. Here an art critic who explains her view:



    My point is, who defines what is degenerate and where is the limit? In the end, wouldn't it be just someone imposing their own views and preferences of art on an entire society? If the government decides such things, there's also a risk of instability. What is today considered art could be tomorrow's trash, based on whomever is in the government.

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  3. #102
    Senior Member Skärmträl's Avatar
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    Here are some things I think one could consider:

    1. Modern art is necessarily harder to wrap our head around. 20th (and late 19th) century artists were the first to be part of the greatest upheaval of human history (as are we), hence we can expect the art from circa 1850 til now to play around with the basics of aesthetic appreciation. Are they degenerate? Are they adventurous? I can't blame anyone for not knowing for sure. Postmodernism is simultaneously a curse and a gift. It will produce some great new things, but they will be so new that they will be difficult to process, it will be hard to find the key to appreciate them. In the midst of all this, it's easy for hacks like Poppy (in the above post) to emulate the surface of art because most people don't have the time to make out the difference.

    2. A lot of modern art is crap. But some isn't. A lot of people are tempted to lump all of modern art into the same heap of garbage, and I can't blame them--it's part of the naive democratization of creative work--but I think that is doing ourselves a disservice. Find a good art critic who seems to make sense and work your way up. You may find some really great stuff. Geniuses are born in every century and it wouldn't make much statistical sense to assume that none were part of modern art.

    3. Is it even possible to "go back"? The greatest artists of history were basically all revolutionaries, pushing the limits of their craft. Although the Renaissance was meant to revive the spirit of the ancient ideal, the resulting art is very much its own, mirroring its times (the centuries after 1300). And what would happen if we really limited our artists to very strict aesthetics? Inspiration from past ideals seems a good idea, but censuring seems to have a tendency to kill off more inspiration than it nurtures.

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  5. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    , who defines what is degenerate and where is the limit? In the end, wouldn't it be just someone imposing their own views and preferences of art on an entire society? If the government decides such things, there's also a risk of instability. What is today considered art could be tomorrow's trash, based on whomever is in the government.
    Never seen "poppy" before and she is brilliant, 200 million subscribers that has to be a lot of ad revenue for being stupid and boring with a artsy mystic.

    Who defines what is degenerate? Culture and society define what is degenerate, who else would?
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

  6. #104
    New Member SirArchibald's Avatar
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    Generally art should be free. Not banned. But in some cases there can be exception if it is really extremely degenerate/perverted.

  7. #105
    Senior Member Astragoth's Avatar
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    Our opponents don't believe in freedom of speech so why should I?

  8. #106
    Senior Member Skärmträl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    Most peoples seem to agree on content like violence, sexual exhibitionism, extreme disrespect or cruelty. [...] But where is the limit?
    Perhaps we could further exemplify what we mean by over-the-top violence and cruelty.

    First off, general suffering is an immensely important and central experience of human existence, it needs to be depicted in art and has been depicted in art for a very long time. The suffering (Passion) of Christ, the result of violence and cruelty, is even one of the most pivotal aspects of Christian art, which in turn is very much central to Western art.

    These artists, however, don't show cruelty or violence themselves in their depictions, but rather an immense compassion for the human condition. But if an artist does show cruelty through their art, no matter what he or she depicts, maybe that's where some of us would draw the line.

    Then again, people are more or less sensitive. Some will feel nauseous and upset from looking at a painting of e.g. the decaying corpse of the Messiah, while others will find it a cathartic experience.

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  10. #107
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    Hmm indeeed, you've a very good point, Skärmträl, with the Passion of Christ. Sometimes, suffering and violence needs to be depicted for a higher purpose and it doesn't always come from depravity. Another example would be hell and doom paintings, whose purpose is to strike fear into the heart of viewers and discourage them from sin. So if anything, the purpose is inverse: they aim to warn about and avoid depravity. Which also brings to a philosophical concept: to understand light, we need to know dark. To appreciate beauty, we contrast it with ugliness. So it begs the question, if some types of degenerate art didn't exist, would we still appreciate the classical art the same way?

    Also on the topic, although many peoples put an equal sign between modern and degenerate art, ugliness can be found in classical art as well. What's more, the definition of ugliness can change according to era. To contemporary eyes, for example, the art of the Dark Ages looks ugly (a famous example are the "ugly babies" from medieval paintings). But to the peoples as the time it wasn't ugly, it was a purposefully expressionistic convention. Or take these Da Vinci sketches, Grotesque Heads:





    Ugliness? Yes, that's the point of it. But degenerate art? I'm not so sure. On the other hand, how many people's opinions would be influenced by the fact that the artpiece comes from Leonardo da Vinci, who was known to be a creative genius, and hence they give it intrinsically more value? What if the same sketch was created by a contemporary painter John Smith? Would it qualify as degenerate art? Hmm...

    Another example is The Ugly Duchess by the Flemish artist Quentin Matsys around 1513:



    Ugliness? Yes, again, that's the whole motive behind the painting. It's based on the previous sketch by Da Vinci. But degenerate art? I'm not so sure. We've to remember ugliness was a means to an end for these artists: the art was intentionally unattractive, as the ugliness of these individuals was intended to contrast with the beauty of Leonardo Da Vinci's other sitters. In addition, The Ugly Duchess is one of the most popular postcards sold in London’s National Gallery Shop. So there's a certain appeal it has to peoples eyes and minds.

    Now let's contrast to one of the art styles which were considered degenerate, like the Baroque. While many consider Baroque art to be rather unappealing, ugly is a strong word for some of it. For example, this style is Baroque:



    Apollo and Daphne, a sculpture by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini

    It's anything but ugly, in my view. In fact, if we compare it to a painting by Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, I'm pretty sure many peoples would prefer the former, if they weren't aware of who the authors and eras of the works were.



    The Sea of Ice, by Caspar David Friedrich

    Finally, here an example of the geometric art which was a common theme among the degenerate art exhibition in the III Reich.



    Happening by Johannes Molzahn. Ugly? Degenerate? This type of art, geometric shapes, is a common sight in modern art galleries and artistic homes. While it's a little bit more decorative in pattern, some peoples see a level of deepness in it. While some find it simplistic, simplicity is not a reason to ban art. In fact, a lot of contemporary art is simplistic, deviant and unusual by some definitions. Look at Deviant Art for example. It encompasses a wide range of arts from coloring, vectors and geometric sketches to photography, photomanipulation and digital arts. Where would be the limit? So in my view the issue is a little bit more complex than it appears.

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  12. #108
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    No, it should not be banned. To begin with, I agree that what is degenerate art is largely subjective. Is it ugly art, is it simple art, or is it mainstream or unpopular art? Is it what the art depicts, or is it the way that it is perceived by the onlooker? While I'm pretty sure that most of us would agree that some modern art examples like "Piss Christ" could be degenerate, modern art is too broad a category and includes many other examples that mimic the classics. I'll include here a quote from Quora in response to "What makes art good or bad/beautiful or ugly?", as I think it deals with some of these questions:

    I will start with ugly vs. beautiful. These are aesthetic terms that measure the level of aesthetic beauty. In terms of what defines these things that is simple, all of the elements and principles of visual art and design.

    How these different elements are appreciated seems to be more subjective. For example, Western aesthetics in general developed a large amount of symmetry through both Christian and Islamic influence. In the East, Buddhism and Hinduism seem to have influenced a more asymmetrical aesthetic.

    As for good and bad art, that is a far more difficult question. I tend to think of art in terms of levels of pondering a thing. How much meaning can I find in a work of art? “Good” art is artwork that I can ponder for a very long time. Some of it may even be ugly. Guernica by Picasso is an example of an ugly work of art that I have been thinking about for over a decade. The Brother Karamazov by Dostoyevsky has been on my mind for two decades. There are so many complex layers that show beauty, ugliness, good, evil and all of the complex shades of life. “Bad” art in my mind is simple art. Art that I can look at and get immediately. Art that functions on one cognitive level. In fact I think this is the difference between nuanced art and propaganda. Propaganda needs to propagate an idea. So it focuses on one idea. Not all propaganda is bad, it is just simple.

    There are simple works of art (Marvel movies) but they have their place. Will they stand the test of time and become classics? Not unless more meaning is made interpreted through them as a consequence of more history.
    "Tradition doesn't mean holding on to the ashes, it means passing the torch."
    - Thomas Morus (1478-1535)

  13. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skärmträl View Post
    Perhaps we could further exemplify what we mean by over-the-top violence and cruelty.

    First off, general suffering is an immensely important and central experience of human existence, it needs to be depicted in art and has been depicted in art for a very long time. The suffering (Passion) of Christ, the result of violence and cruelty, is even one of the most pivotal aspects of Christian art, which in turn is very much central to Western art.
    Art was conceived to supersede suffering, not enable it. It should always be uplifting and ennobling.

    Art is not a mere fashion, a superfluous sentiment to be gossiped about at every turn and twist. It belongs to a sacred realm and is one of the fundamental pillars of culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    So if anything, the purpose is inverse: they aim to warn about and avoid depravity.
    Scolding, threats, beatings, etc. do not inspire virtue. Virtue which rises out of fear and pedantic preaching merely reinforces egoism and increases contempt for the Christian religion. Schopenhauer and Voltaire have said as much.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDSpkQ8U2Hs#t=1m26s

    A fuzzy little rabbit is obviously more relatable and helps cultivate an appreciation for wildlife and biology. The fables of Aesop (which even Luther acknowledged) have more merit than that of Homer's, opting to omit the monstrous sensationalism and prevailing superstitions of his times strictly for sound ethics, with his stories being grounded in reality, featuring everyday situations, once again relatable. He also makes it clear that his story is just a plain old tale rather than attempting to sell it in the form of a historical narrative.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    Ugliness? Yes, that's the point of it. But degenerate art? I'm not so sure. On the other hand, how many people's opinions would be influenced by the fact that the artpiece comes from Leonardo da Vinci, who was known to be a creative genius, and hence they give it intrinsically more value? What if the same sketch was created by a contemporary painter John Smith? Would it qualify as degenerate art? Hmm...
    This starts off from the presumption that Da Vinci was a cultural individual all his life, plus you have not even factored at which point in his life this drawing was made. Richard Wagner adopted Schopenhauer's pessimism later in his life, but there was a time when he produced cultural works (i.e. Rienzi, which is incidentally based on a cultural work, and yet Edward Bulwer-Lytton is said to have propped up a cripple in Pilgrims of the Rhine). Thus, instead of saying that Alexander the Great was simply great and admirable, one should say that he could be those things at his peak moments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    Happening by Johannes Molzahn. Ugly? Degenerate? This type of art, geometric shapes, is a common sight in modern art galleries and artistic homes. While it's a little bit more decorative in pattern, some peoples see a level of deepness in it. While some find it simplistic, simplicity is not a reason to ban art. In fact, a lot of contemporary art is simplistic, deviant and unusual by some definitions. Look at Deviant Art for example. It encompasses a wide range of arts from coloring, vectors and geometric sketches to photography, photomanipulation and digital arts. Where would be the limit? So in my view the issue is a little bit more complex than it appears.
    It is almost entirely devoid of form and prizes color. While I have a distaste for belittling the savage, so-called "Third World" nations, I must point out that their art is severely lacking compared to European sculptures, the one dominant factor being their superabundance of color. The first link especially proves my point.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=aust...aboriginal+art
    https://www.google.com/search?q=jewish+art
    https://www.google.com/search?q=african+art
    https://www.google.com/search?q=south+american+art

    Even someone as confused as Kant knew that the philosophy behind modern art was rubbish (as he says in his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment):

    In painting, in sculpture, indeed in all the visual arts, including
    architecture and horticulture insofar as they are fine arts, design is
    what is essential
    ; in design the basis for any involvement of taste is
    not what gratifies us in sensation, but merely what we like because of
    its form. The colors that illuminate the outline belong to charm.
    Though they can indeed make the object itself vivid to sense, they
    cannot make it beautiful and worthy of being beheld
    .


    Modern art is only justified as desktop wallpaper.

  14. #110
    Senior Member Sigebrond's Avatar
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    Under the assumption that it excludes art that's promoting paedophilia, bestiality, LGBT crap and so on, no, I am against censorship and regardless of how inept and tasteless modern art might seem, we should be the adults in the situation and put up with it. No more book burnings or "bonfire of the vanities", when you start burning books and art deemed inappropriate or unacceptable, eventually the definition of what is acceptable is going to become increasingly narrow. More importantly, who do you think would be in charge of said burnings of degenerate art? People we can trust? I doubt it.

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