January 24, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, MUSIC, Opera, Ulalume | 3 Comments |

O tempora, o mores! Tosca’s taking up with fascists in the updated OA production (‘don’t cry for me, Mussolini, the truth is you can’t spoil Tosca…’).   Fondation Louis Vuitton opened in Paris last October, described by Jonathan Meades in the Spectator (Xmas 14) as “yet another of Frank Gehry’s exercises in outsize origami.”  Yet it would be hard to match, for sheer ugliness, the Centre Georges Pompidou.

The New Brutalism rampant

The New Brutalism rampant

[Update note: The Times reports (September, 2017) that Richard Rogers, the man responsible for the Pompidou Centre, has criticized interventions by Prince Charles on additions to historic public buildings, calling the Prince “architecturally ignorant…[viewing architecture as] fixed at one point in the past rather than an evolving language…” The Varnished Culture is not often ad idem with the Prince on aesthetics, but we think Centre Georges Pompidou, and frankly, most of Lord Rogers’ other work, represent evolutionary language just as Esperanto might replace Elizabethan argot – in other words, more ersatz than evolution.]

Pop art makes a comeback with a Blam!  And Jeff Koons is having both a retrospective and a renaissance of claims.  Sigh.  I wonder what Bellini would make of Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles figurine?  Perhaps he’d share the opinion of Robert Hughes: “syrupy, gross…numbing…gaudy…nauseating…”  But it’s all, all, right, because they mean it, so it isn’t really kitsch!  Right? It’s satire. And shite.

‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, stockbroker or artist, it’s your call.” (Koons mirror, Art Institute, Chicago)

Things fall farther apart: NYC Opera Company has closed down and filed for bankruptcy.  There endures the Met, of course, but that the Capital of the New World can’t sustain NYCO gives pause for thought… A study by Sydney University shows that 50% of professional musicians from State orchestras suffer from clinical anxiety and or depression…lollypop rubbish reigns supreme still at Tate Modern…the corruption of money and obsession with provenance over merit has all but fully loosed art from its aesthetic and ethical moorings…kitsch shall never die but can we not all agree together to keep it within bounds?

Ultra-kitsch by Lars Olsson

Ultra-kitsch by Lars Olsson


  1. Reply

    ray van pottelbergh

    July 18, 2023

    I think most of us can agree that the Pompidou Centre is a misplaced mess, the equivalent of a gasometer right next to Chartres cathedral.

    • Reply

      Lesley Jakobsen

      July 18, 2023

      We totally agree! Was it a deliberate gesture of contempt to Chartres Cathedral, in another fit of French anti-clericalism?

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