I toured the Crystal Bridges Museum of Bentonville, Arkansas. It is a magnificent structure. Sam Walton’s widow and family members put up about $2 billion to build it and fill it with American paintings. It costs $20 million a year to run. It is free to tour.
Nowhere can we see better the great paintings of American artists in the past, and then see the utter ugliness of modern American painting. In two hours, it becomes clear to everyone except very rich people, such as Mrs. Walton, who thinks it is all great.
To compare the Western landscapes of Thomas Moran with a pile of melted metal on the floor conveys information about the lack of taste of rich modern art collectors. They cannot tell great art from anti-art: exercises in self-conscious revolution against common sense and good taste.
Here, we see the war of modern painters and artists against the best qualities of the common man. These artists have contempt for beauty, for reliability, for coherence. And they sell their ethical rebellion to very rich people, who have been conned by art “critics” to imagine that this schlock offers something of artistic value. It does offer something of economic value: lots of money from really clueless rich people.
By far the most artistically impressive single example of modern American art in the museum is the original Rosie the Riveter, by Norman Rockwell. Close-up, it is impressive. Her blue jeans look like blue jeans because of the canvas, which looks like canvas.
There is an Andy Warhol painting of Dolly Parton that is pretty good. Of course, I am partial to Dolly Parton.
As you walk through the exhibition, from the eighteenth century through the twentieth, you can see the decline of taste. It goes from realism to representation of nightmares. I am sure Mrs. Walton, being very rich, thinks it is all equal. Here, we see the mind of modern rich people at work. These people really are the emperors with no clothes.
By the way, every room seemed t have at least one naked lady sculpture — huge things. They look like naked ladies. No modernism, here. This is more Hugh Hefner than Jackson Pollack.
I am glad that Mrs. Walton put together this collection. It will make art lovers come to Bentonville, Arkansas. They will see how the other half lives. Also, it will let the average American museum visitor get a sense of the artistic decline of the twentieth century. You can see it. It cost a fortune to provide the evidence in one place.