Shock Of The New (Good?)

“Audiences and institutions have long believed that anything that unsettles is intended to provoke. The provocation hardly needs to be sexual. It can be childlike (“My 5-year-old could do that!”) or primitive (Gauguin) or political (Grosz) or distorted (Cubism) or conceptually unsettling (Duchamp’s urinal; Cage’s “4′ 33′ ” of silence). For a long while, when people raged against such provocations, I would take the defiant position of assuming, unless authoritatively informed otherwise, that the artist had no intention to provoke. Of course, there are deliberate provocateurs, sometimes for overt careerist ends. But what counts is the art. Great art is always shocking.”