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Critic's Holly Hughes Stand Criticized as Condescending

August 11, 1990

Regarding Cathy Curtis' commentary on performance artist Holly Hughes ("Defending the Avant-Garde," Calendar, July 30):

Curtis' attempt to "sanitize" Hughes' work was laughable and pathetic. The defense statement she faxed to Hughes could have described Mozart. But when Mozart decided to treat the human condition with lyricism, warmth and humor, he wrote "Cosi Fan Tutti." Hughes decided to publicly fondle her anatomy.

Curtis seems to be consumed by an art uber-alles mentality; that it doesn't matter what actions a person may take, as long as they derive an aesthetically pleasing product from them.

Her defense of the artist would have a little more credence if she could distinguish "good" art from "virtuous" art. Or if she could distinguish "good" art from immorality masquerading as "good" art.

I'm sure the Nazis had some very able artists. Nero was a very capable musician, according to legend.

Can art be separated from the morality of the artist? A good question skirted by Curtis. To her, good art is simply, benignly "complex," and people who don't have credentials to pass her idiosyncratic muster should keep quiet, even when deeply offended by art that flips the bird at their morals. Her tacit assumption is that the masses simply aren't smart enough to appreciate lesbianism. It's a patronizing, condescending stance, no matter how polite she tries to sound.


Huntington Beach

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