It is audacious for a writer on art on the eve of his eightieth birthday to publish a volume of criticism called Bad Art. The subject, after all, is such a large and various one. It extends in so many directions and encompasses such a massive quantity of objects and so vast a range of “ideas” that even to think of charting a course through the terrain to be covered is a daunting prospect. This is especially the case at the present moment, when contributions to the already huge stock of bad art accumulate at a greater rate of speed than ever before in our history. In this lugubrious endeavor, the nineteenth century—when large-scale production of the stuff seems to have begun in earnest—could not be said to be laggard; but the twentieth century has long outdistanced its predecessor in the sheer scale and variety of the bad art it has seen produced (and praised), and the later decades of this...


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