Robert Hughes


“Although art has always been a commodity, it loses its intrinsic value and its social use when it is treated only as a commodity. To lock it into a market circus is to lock people out of the contemplation of it. This inexorable process tends to collapse the nuances of meaning, and visual experience generally, under the brute weight of price. It is not a compliment to the work. If there were only one copy of each book in the world, fought over by multimillionaires and investment trusts and then hidden in storage, what would happen to one’s sense of literature—the tissue of its meanings that sustain a common discourse?”

Even better:

“The Cultural Cringe is the assumption that whatever you do in the field of writing, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, dance, or theater is of unknown value until it is judged by people outside your own society. It is the reflex of the kid with low self-esteem hoping that his work will please the implacable father, but secretly despairing that it can. The essence of cultural colonialism is that you demand of yourself that your work measure up to standards that cannot be shared or debated where you live. By the manipulation of such standards, almost anything can be seen to fail, no matter what sense of finesse, awareness, and delight it may produce in its own setting.”

–Robert Hughes



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