As far as art “movements” go, postmodernism doesn’t really cut the mustard for me. It’s an elitist way of saying “shit got so crazy we couldn’t categorize it anymore,” and frankly I’m with academia insofar as saying well bugger that for a lark. ‘Avant-garde’ doesn’t bother me, nor does abstraction (conceptual does), but the awful thing about postmodernism is that there is so much crap. I mean real, awful crap coming from people riding on the coat tails of a century of revolutionaries who asked for a definition of art and constantly found it too small for them. Perhaps I’m just not intelligent enough to understand it all, or I’m just another drone who wants to push everyone into a category (contemporary artists hate being put in ‘categories,’ it’s so very passé), but I guess I just like the idea of art and artists who wanted to be a part of something, greater than themselves, greater than just the price their painting could fetch on a technicality. It’s what art critic Robert Hughes called the “Mona Lisa Curse” in his fantastic documentary of the same title. The problem is that, in the absolute mudslide of profiteering and simpering aesthetes that have milked the reverse of pop art theory for every last penny, there are plenty of wonderful, lovely, unique artists with beautiful work that are categorized alongside the charlatans for the simple sake of efficacy. Postmodernists.
In my opinion Frank Stella is one of these rare birds of paradise. And if the vibrant simplicity of his paintings isn’t enough to convince you, then perhaps accept what I found to be the most charming, if not the most inspiring of his quotes: ” Up until 35 I had a slightly skewed world view. I honestly believed everybody in the world wanted to make abstract paintings, and people only became lawyers and doctors and brokers and things because they couldn’t make abstract paintings.” That is real drive, real passion.