Bordieu vs. Contemporary Art

I found most of the first part of this essay interesting in specific regards to Bourdieu’s readings of tastes in art and music in relation to class and status. As mentioned in previous posts, Bourdieu points out specific aspects of art that people of lower, bourgeois classes prefer in comparison to the arguably more complicated aspects of artwork that the upper classes prefer. I did disagree, or felt that some of these distinctions between artistic aspects were a little outdated, and making connections with art that aligns itself with modernism. Today I feel like art comments more broadly and has a harder time being divided into groups of high brow and low brow. Take someone like Damien Hirst for example, an artist who deals with extremely lofty themes, yet presents them in a visceral form, appealing to anyone who likes a great white shark in a tank of formaldahyde. In this sense, I don’t think that art today holds the answers as clearly for creating distinction among class as much as it used to.

I found it interesting also the ambiguity which Bourdieu describes the impact of musical taste. On page nineteen, he states that music is the most “spiritual” of the arts, and having an interest in music makes one “spiritual”. He goes on to discuss the re-readings of religious/spiritual music by the secularized, what he argues is a valuable aspect of culture today. Bourdieu aslo claims that music is the “purest” of art forms because “it says nothing and has nothing to say”. Again, here I feel that his interpretations are slightly outdated, coming at a time (late 60s was his research for this book) when jazz was still on the brink of being canonized in the academic world. Not to say that jazz is loaded with overt meaning, or strays from Bourdieu’s reading of musical spirituality, but in many ways, jazz is itself a rereading of religious music by the secularized.

I found Bourdieu’s readings into taste interesting, yet a bit dry and dare I say outdated? I felt that Hebdige had a better grasp on what taste meant to people today (although, as Hebdige argues, by the time we figure out about it, it’s gone), a view that was a little more accesible for me.

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