Aphorisms for Artists by Walter Darby Bannard

Aphorism #15

Ugliness in art is the last refuge of the uninspired.

As art gets more popular and the market gets bigger, as it has in the years since World War II, competition increases. Art, which has no evident usefulness, is forced to shout, “look at me!”

Art could try to be beautiful, of course, but beauty, by its nature, it rather soft-spoken and reticent, and the art public, in its persistent vulgarity, confuses repulsiveness with profundity. This fosters quantities of art taken to grotesque extremes.

Many years ago, Clement Greenberg said, “All profoundly original work looks ugly at first.” This should be updated to “All profoundly ugly work looks original at first.”

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