The Italian immigrant culture in which I was raised (all four of my grandparents and my mother were born in Italy) esteemed beauty as a primary principle of life. Everything from a mischievous little boy to the cut of a home-sewn lapel or the construction of a stone wall was called bello (beautiful) or bellissimo (very beautiful). There was no borderline between the arts and crafts: The works of Michelangelo—reproduced on souvenir plaques or ashtrays from the Vatican—occupied the same continuum of handiwork as the lacquered wooden nut bowls carved by my uncle or the wedding dresses stitched by my mother and grandmother to earn extra income.Share
Thanks to the traditional reverence for art and beauty among the Italian country people from whom I came, I have been waging war for decades against the toxic trends in academe (such as postmodernism and post-structuralism) that view art in a reductively ironic or overly politicized way.
As a 40-year veteran teacher in art schools, I am alarmed about the future of American art. Young people today, immersed in a digital universe, love the volatile excitement of virtual reality, but they lack the patience to steadily contemplate a single image—a complex static object such as a great painting or sculpture. The paintings of their world are now video games, with images in febrile motion; their sculptures are the latest-model cellphone, deftly shaped to the hand. (Read entire article.)