I love great modern architecture. Regrettably, other than new materials, little that is truly innovative or fresh has been contributed to the idom of modernist design in recent decades.   In my consideration the idea train for modern architecture got to the station about 1964 and everyone is still standing around applauding.

In a recent interview in Salon.com Camille Paglia spoke my very mind.  For architecture to be un-tethered from it’s historic antecedents or it’s cultural and environmental context is to set it adrift on a sea of untenable ideas. The root Idea’s behind Modern architecture are self referencing and that is, was, and always will be the end of any chance at creative advancement beyond the inception of the idea itself.  Camille seems to agree…


“In “Glittering Images,” you argue that the avant-garde is dead. Are there any artists — be they painters or pop stars — who are making innovative work right now?

The avant-garde was a magnificent and revolutionary phase in the history of art, but it’s completely over. Artists and galleries must (in Ann Landers’ immortal words) wake up and smell the coffee! The avant-garde, whose roots were in late-18th-century Romanticism, was a reaction against a strong but suffocating classical tradition. The great modernist artists, from Picasso to James Joyce, were trained in that tradition, which gave audacity and power to their subversion of it.
But then modernism began to feed on itself, and it became weaker and weaker. As I argue in “Glittering Images,” there has been nothing genuinely avant-garde since Andy Warhol except for Robert Mapplethorpe’s luminous homoerotic images of the sadomasochistic underground. Everything that calls itself avant-garde today is just a tedious imitation of earlier and far superior modernist art. The art world has become an echo chamber of commercially inflated rhetoric, shallow ironies and monolithic political ideology.””

Camille Paglia (Credit: Michael Lionstar)