I admit that I just can't go any further into Shaw - even if he is a pioneer
in developing a theory of art that is free of any values.
The idea of "rareness" was his best shot --- but it only succeeded for him
because he refused to examine it as anything other
than a mathematical concept that could be expressed by bar graphs.
But he does have his moments -- as when he suggests that the only reason for
an art museum not to take custody of a baseball game is that it won't fit in
the building. (why not just call the ballpark an art museum? -- or as we
would now say, an installation of performance art) Wouldn't Cheerskep agree
with that ? (or --maybe Cheerskep prefers football)
And then there is his discussion of William's favorite topic, the "eternal
beauty of the Golden Rectangle". Shaw proves there is no such thing as the
eternal beauty of anything - i.e. it does not fit his theory -- which is how
he conducts all of his demonstrations. But what is the evidence for that
phenomenon, anyway ? Is it preferred in every culture ? Is it even more
commonly used in ours than any other proportions ? Has it's attraction been
tested on randomly selected groups of people ?
The assertion that art is some kind of "phenomenon of existence" continues
through today -- and if Shaw did not originate it --he at least deserves some
credit for being the first to attempt it without recourse to any kind of moral
or spiritual mumbo jumbo.
Or if he wasn't the first --- who was ?
BTW -- the only "art work" which was illustrated in his book was "The Doctor"
by Sir Luke Fides -- an estimable Victorian genre painter -- whose paintings
would certainly be quite rare to Americans because they can only be found in
Ironically -- or perhaps, appropriately -- the image in his book that might
most appeal to current collectors is one of Shaw's own fanciful drawings --
a hypothetical graph which was based on no actual data -- but which he drew
with the kind of dynamic line and composition that one might find in a
painting by William Conger.
Add to that Shaw's well deserved reputation as a crank and kook, and I think
we have a masterpiece of "outsider art" here.
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