FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 36 Julian Huxley:”God does not in fact exist, but act as if He does!” (Feature on artist Barry McGee)

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

 

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Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” , episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted,Schaefferwho always claimed to be an evangelist and not aphilosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplifiedintellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pillbecause Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art andculture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about thembecause they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!

J.I.PACKER WROTE OF SCHAEFFER, “His communicative style was not that of acautious academic who labors for exhaustive coverage and dispassionate objectivity. It was rather that of an impassioned thinker who paints his vision of eternal truth in bold strokes and stark contrasts.Yet it is a fact that MANY YOUNG THINKERS AND ARTISTS…HAVE FOUND SCHAEFFER’S ANALYSES A LIFELINE TO SANITY WITHOUT WHICH THEY COULD NOT HAVE GONE ON LIVING.”

Francis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts andthey have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where ourwestern society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youthenthansia were  moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decadesbecause of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true asSchaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This linkshows how to do that.

Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chanceplus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTSARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULTOF MINDLESS CHANCE.

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Julian Huxley wrote, “God does not in fact exist, but act as if He does!” Woody Allen addressed the same point in his movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and I have written this same subject over and over and over  again on this blog.

Relieving the Tension in the West

In  both the East and the West, however, there are attempts to relieve the tension of seeming to be nothing, while in fact being something very real – a person in a real world which has a definite form. On the materialist side, Sir Julian Huxley (1887-1975) has clarified the dilemma by acknowledging, though he was an atheist, that somehow or other – against all that one might expect – a person functions better if he acts as though God exists. “So,” the argument goes, “God does not in fact exist, but act as if He does!” As observed by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) in The Wild Duck: “Rob the average man of his life-illusion, and you rob him of his happiness at the same stroke.” In other words, according to Huxley, you can function properly only if you live your whole life upon a lie. You act as if God exists, which to the materialist is false. At first this sounds like a feasible solution for relieving the tension produced by a materialist world-view. However, a moment’s reflection shows what a terrible solution it is. You will find no deeper despair than this for a sensitive person. This is no optimistic, happy, reasonable, brilliant answer. It is darkness and death.
Another way the tension is relieved is through the theory of evolution, the idea that by chance there is an increasing advance. People are given an impression of progress – up from the primeval slime and the amoeba, up through the evolutionary chain, with life developing by chance from the simple carbon molecule to the complex, right up to the pinnacle, mankind.
This is not the place to discuss evolutionary theory, but it surprises us how readily people accept it, even on the scientific side, as if it had no problems. There are problems, even if these are not commonly realized or discussed.89 The primary point we are interested in, however, is not evolution itself but the illusion of “progress” which has been granted by it. By chance, this amazing complexity called “man” has been generated out of the slime. So, of course, there is progress! By this argument people are led into imagining that the whole of reality does have purpose even if, as we have said, there is no way that it really can have purpose within the humanistic world-view.
Evolution makes men and women feel superior and at the top of the pile, but in the materialistic framework, the whole of reality is meaningless; the concept of “higher” means nothing. Even if, within the humanist world-view, people are more complex than plants and animals, both “higher” and “lower” have no meanings. We are left with everything being sad and absurd.
Thus, the concept of progress is an illusion. Only some form of mystical jump will allow us to accept that personality comes from impersonality.90 No one has offered to explain, let alone demonstrate it to be feasible, how the impersonal plus time plus chance can give personality. We are distracted by a flourish of words – and, lo, personality has appeared out of a hat.
Imagine a universe made up of only liquids and solids, one containing no free gases. A fish is swimming in this universe. This fish, quite naturally, is conformed to its environment so that it is able to exist quite happily. Let us suppose, then, that by blind chance (as the evolutionists would have us believe) this fish developed lungs as it continued swimming in this universe without any gases. The fish would no longer be able to function and to fulfill its position as a fish. Would it then be “higher” or “lower” in its new state with lungs? Obviously it would be lower, for it would drown.
In the same way, if a person has been kicked up from the impersonal by chance, those things that make him a person – hope of purpose and significance, love, notions of morality and rationality and beauty – are ultimately unfulfillable and are thus meaningless. In such a situation, is man higher or lower? Mankind would then be the lowest creature on the scale, the least conforming to what reality is. Thus we see how hopeless is the illusion of meaning or purpose as derived from evolutionary thought.

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer Whatever Happened to the Human Race (Episode 1) ABORTION

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

Clark H. Pinnock was a close friend of Francis Schaeffer’s back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s when he wrote this article below:

The Moral Argument for Christian Theism

by Clark H. Pinnock, Bibliotheca Sacra, April/June 1974
(reprinted with permission)

Many excellent arguments have been advanced throughout the years on behalf of Christian theism: the cosmological, the historical, the teleological, and so forth. One of them, the moral argument, by reason of its extreme relevance to the human situation, has a certain advantage over the others. Although like them it supplies grounds for believing in a transcendent, personal God, the moral argument goes further. It addresses itself to a most fundamental question which concerns humanists and Christians alike. Both groups are eager to sustain an ethic or moral obligation to our fellow man. But on what basis does such a noble commitment securely rest? How is it to be sustained, or even explained? The moral dimension of human experience raises very readily the question of God whom Christians believe constitutes the only ground that can support the kind of moral commitment which is needed today.

Naturalistic Ethics

In his convocation address to the Darwin Centennial celebration, Sir Julian Huxley put forward a naturalistic ethic based upon his evolutionary vision of the world. Man’s hope depends, he argued, upon his ability to generate human values and guide the course of his own development. How can this be done? Let us observe the direction we are developing, and from that decide in what direction we ought to be moving. In agreement with D.H. Waddington, Huxley defined what is right and ethical as activity which is in conformity to the evolutionary process.

There are three decisive weaknesses which, quite apart from Christian revelation, are immanent within this proposal. First, Huxley has committed the “naturalistic fallacy” as set out by G.E. Moore. Moore held that ethical concepts cannot be reduced to, or derived from, non-ethical concepts. It is not possible to derive an ought from an is. Although Huxley is anxious for us to believe that his ethics arise out of his science, they do not in fact do so. On the contrary, they were derived from elsewhere, and by a process of circular reasoning were read back into it. When we look at evolution, for example, we see the principle of the “survival of the fittest” which, if it were translated into ethical terms, could only justify an ethic of power and selfishness which Huxley could not endorse. Science by itself is incapable of generating values, and just because it is value-free stands in need of an axiology from the outside to direct its own work. Naturalistic ethics are parasitic. They are unconsciously imbibed out of the general heritage of Western civilization, and put forward as if they arose out of a description of the world. These prior commitments are what lead men like Huxley to accept certain aspects of evolution, and ignore others.

Second, once we see that the norms of naturalistic ethics do not spring from the world of nature, we can realize how very arbitrary this approach to ethics is. The only way to sustain a neighbor-oriented ethic on these terms is by arbitrarily positing the value of human personal life by an act of the will. There is no objective reason within a naturalistic framework for placing value on man’s life, the starting point of any ethical system. We can illustrate the problem from within the discussion between ethicists who operate in this framework.

Professor A.J. Ayer, a logical positivist, holds ethical statements to be emotive and non-cognitive. They represent a personal preference for a certain kind of behavior, rather than any objective ethical norms. We can no more criticize a person for liking to steal than we could condemn him for preferring coffee to tea. On the American scene, Miss Ayn Rand has attained some notoriety for espousing the virtue of selfishness. If the ego alone has value, as naturalism would seem to imply, self-interest is the final norm for human behavior. Man’s sole significant ethical obligation is to himself. Similarly Jean Paul Sartre, though he has given much thought to the subject, has been unable to develop reasons or norms for man’s moral responsibility towards his neighbor. We allude to Ayer, Rand, and Sartre, in order to show that there is a crisis of values in the naturalistic world view which deeply threatens the foundations of ethics. Though we are profoundly interested in attempts of humanists to develop an ethic of goodwill towards all men, we cannot see how this will be possible. Humanists can decide to recognize the worthwhileness of human life, but are unable to explain why we are obliged to.

Finally, naturalistic ethics consistently ignores one of the best attested facts about human nature, its moral obtuseness and perversity. At no point is the humanist creed which counts upon the goodness of man less convincing. Man’s sense of moral obligation is continually being frustrated because of his self-centeredness. Science has done much for us, but it has not made us good. Naturalistic ethics are deficient because they do not take into account this undoubted fact about human beings. In each of these three respects, naturalistic ethics show itself to be conceptually deficient.

Christian Theistic Ethics

In contrast with naturalistic ethics, the Christian system based upon belief in a personal God of righteousness makes excellent sense of the moral dimension of human experience and provides a firm foundation on which to build a neighbor-oriented ethic.

First of all, the Bible gives a sufficient explanation as to the origins of morality in human life. It is surely a striking thing that out of a universe composed of atoms and molecules there should arise personal, rational, and moral creatures such as men are. What can account for this extraordinary fact? According to naturalism, personality, rationality, and morality have all arisen by chance out of impersonal, nonrational, and amoral being. The evolutionary stream appears to have risen much higher, qualitatively speaking, than its source. But any such theory falls far short of full rationality. A cause does not produce an effect which contains in itself qualities altogether lacking in the cause. If the world contains personal, rational, and moral creatures, as it does, it can only be because the cause of the world is personal, rational, and moral.

Second, the Christian belief in God lays solid foundations for morality. The British language philosopher Stephen Toulmin has written a book which explores the principles which are implicit in our reasoning as moral agents (Stephen Toulmin, An Examination of the Place of Reason in Ethics, [Cambridge, 1950]). In the course of his analysis, Toulmin uncovered a fundamental commitment which, though generally unquestioned and even unrecognized, points beyond morality to something deeper. That commitment amounts to a profound confidence in the final worth of human life. If the confidence were not there, we would lack all motivation to keep faith and act responsibly toward others. Moral actions are existentially possible only because their roots reach down into an underlying confidence in the abiding worth of our lives. But how is such a prereflexive confidence to be accounted for, and on what basis does it securely rest? Certainly, naturalism cannot explain it, or supply any adequate foundation for it. If man is the chance product of an impersonal order, the final worth of his life is drastically undermined, and consequently the foundation of morality is threatened. Friedrich Nietzsche was perceptive when he saw that the death of God would bring about a transvaluation of values. Once man’s confidence in the worth of human life is cut away, the basis of the entire ethical enterprise is shaken. Only belief in God can provide the sound basis in reality for that confidence in the final worth of human life which ethics presupposes.

Third, Christian theistic belief accounts better for the nature of morality, in at least two respects. In the first place, in moral experience we find ourselves confronted by an unconditional claim, one that is sovereign over all the calculations of expediency. Various psychological and social factors may provide the occasion for making moral judgments , but they do not at all produce the unconditional dimension of the moral imperative. At Nuremberg not even the ethical relativists said, “The Nazi ethical code based upon the German psychology of the thirties allowed for genocide, but our particular criteria compel us to disapprove of it.” On the contrary, the consensus was one of unconditional condemnation. Genocide is objectively wrong, and those who practice it deserve to be punished. Indeed, no mundane penalty seemed adequate for the offense. Moral experience of this kind is familiar to us all, and it is difficult to account for within a nontheistic framework. In the second place, there is reason to believe that this awareness of unconditional moral obligation involves a uniquely personal constraint. We do not feel shame or pollution when we harm things, or transgress such impersonal laws as gravitation. But we do feel that way when we violate the moral law. The proper locus of that law must reside then in a superhuman mind. Even the way in which humanists display loyalty to truth and respect for moral standards only makes sense if there is One to whom they do not wish to be disloyal. In moral experience, we know ourselves to be responsible, not to an impersonal code, but to Him who upholds a moral universe.

Fourth, the Christian message is tailor-made to solve the problem of morality. The sense of moral failure is one of the best attested aspects of human experience. We consistently fall short of attaining the most elementary moral obligations. There seems to be a wide discrepancy between our inward inclinations and the moral law. What man obviously needs is divine redemption in which there is the possibility of a significant degree of righteousness in this world and a promise of perfect righteousness in the world to come. We desperately need a healing power from beyond ourselves. This condition is richly fulfilled in the Christian gospel: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men” (Titus 2:11).

Bible and CrossFinally, the Christian faith assures us that morality will attain its final end. Morality may be man’s finest endeavor, but it is not difficult to see that it can never be fulfilled in this life. In earthly life there are degrees of goodness that are never attained, and acts of wickedness that are never requited. If this life is the only sphere of moral experience we will know, then the world is a madhouse. The lower forms of life may attain their temporal ends, but man whose moral fulfillment requires divine justice and immortality is denied his nisus of fulfillment. The moral dimension is fated to be frustrated unless it can see fulfillment beyond the mundane realm. The Christian world view and eschatology supply precisely that understanding of reality in which morality will attain its proper ends.

Conclusion

It is our belief that naturalistic ethics can provide neither an exhaustive or satisfying account of all that is involved in moral experience. The more we reflect carefully upon this phenomenon the more we are drawn toward belief in God as the rational and intelligible goal of the moral pilgrimage. Moral experience, like human experience as a whole, is left puzzling and unclear unless rational belief in God is finally adopted.

We are not maintaining, let it be noted, that the moral law possesses no power in men’s lives apart from a religious sanction. What we do maintain is that only religious belief renders the existence of the moral dimension understandable. It alone can explain what transpires in that area of human experience. Apart from belief in God, the moral order is an impenetrable mystery.

Our essay began by observing how deeply relevant the moral argument for Christian theism is to the human situation. Almost everyone agrees that we need a greater degree of moral responsibility if mankind is to survive its own folly. But surely it is plain that humane values are not likely to persist if the naturalistic view of the world should become dominant. By leaving God out of the picture, secularism undermines the very foundation on which even its own ethical concerns must rest. It is totally self-stultifying. The Christian faith, on the other hand, supplies a superb basis for a truly ethical concern for other people. By all means let us dedicate ourselves to the good of all mankind. But let us do it within the framework which truly sustains so noble a commitment.


Back to Contents Does God Exist?, SepOct04.

 

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Julian Huxley

 

Sir Julian Huxley

Julian Huxley was the grandson of T H Huxley (staunch supporter of Charles Darwin and creator of the term “agnostic”). He continued his grandfather’s valuable work – in 1927, he joined H G Wells and his son in producing a comprehensive book called The Science of Life, which helped to spread a general understanding of evolution and to promote Biology in the school curriculum. He believed that the study of evolution could help us to understand our own nature and behaviour. He was a professor at King’s College, London, and a pioneer in the study of animal behaviour (ethology) and conservation.

His wife wrote of him: “Julian had a gift of enhancing the moment, making a memorable event of an ordinary walk. He was intensely aware of the moods and treasures of the natural world, knew mountains and their geological structures, feeling their bones under the skin of earth and trees. I loved his all-embracing recognition – knitting together the earth and the animal world, including human beings…”

In 1935 he became one of the first directors of London Zoo. In the early sixties, he wrote articles about hunted and endangered species in Africa, which contributed to the founding of the World Wildlife Fund.

Huxley was dedicated to finding the way to a better life and to the wider access of all mankind to such a life. After World War II, when the United Nations was set up, Huxley was appointed the first Director-General of UNESCO, the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Here he was able to promote world-wide education, population control and conservation of nature.

He became the first President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in 1952, and of the BHA in 1963. He saw Humanism as a replacement ‘religion’, and as such represented an important strand in post-war humanist thought. In a speech given to a conference in 1965 he spoke of the need for “a religiously and socially effective system of humanism.” And in his book Religion Without Revelation, he wrote:

“What the sciences discover about the natural world and about the origins, nature and destiny of man is the truth for religion. There is no other kind of valid knowledge. This natural knowledge, organized and applied to human fulfilment, is the basis of the new and permanent religion.” The book ends with the concept of “transhumanism”– “man remaining man, but transcending himself by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature”.

In 1961 Julian Huxley brought together 25 distinguished people to present their view of existence in a book called The Humanist Frame. He wrote: “…the increase of knowledge is driving us towards the radically new type of idea-system which I have called Evolutionary Humanism…Humanism is seminal.   We must learn what it means, then disseminate Humanist ideas, and finally inject them where possible into practical affairs as a guiding framework for policy and action.”

 

A Christian Manifesto Francis Schaeffer

Published on Dec 18, 2012

A video important to today. The man was very wise in the ways of God. And of government. Hope you enjoy a good solis teaching from the past. The truth never gets old.

The Roots of the Emergent Church by Francis Schaeffer

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Artist featured today is Barry McGee

BOSTON — San Francisco artist Barry McGee has shown in museums and galleries for years, but he’s also widely known for his earlier work — on the streets.

You can still find remnants of McGee’s signature graffiti tags and paintings on tunnel walls and buildings around the world — even here in Boston. Now, a vast, 20-year survey of his work opens Saturday at the Institute of Contemporary Art. (Read our review here.)

Artist Barry McGee (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Standing in the gallery earlier this week as thousands of pieces were being installed, McGee called out to a member of his team, “I have the vinyl over here! Yeah, have you seen it?” Then he turned to me, smiling, and said, “OK, I’m ready.” (He also commented on the look of my recorder, saying it seemed very “authoritative.”)

When asked about said vinyl McGee quietly explained how he wants the exhibition to feel inclusive.

“This is going to be like a community show situation over here,” he said referring to the large room we were in, meaning, “less museum feeling, more of like a show in a park and recs building.”

Among the old surfboards, skateboards and bright-colored op art surrounding us, the west coast artist is also highlighting images from the Boston chapter of his history — photographs of graffiti his friends made here in the 1990s.

“I couldn’t do anything any better than what they would bring to the table,” McGee mused sincerely. “I love that, just bringing the energy of something that hasn’t been seen in Boston for a while and presenting it in a museum format.”

"Untitled (Crawling Man)," 1999/2012 (Tom Powell Imaging via the ICA)

McGee met the Boston graffiti writers when they were students together at the San Francisco Art Institute. He  recalls visiting them here and hitting the streets and T lines.

“I remember being in those tunnels — running around in those — with some friends. And I remember rooftops in Cambridge,” he said.

Caleb Neelon remembers that McGee period, too. He’s a local public artist and author of “The History of American Graffiti.”

“He did a lot of stuff in my neighborhood in Cambridgeport, and it totally changed my world to see some of that firsthand and up close,” Neelon said.

Caleb Neelon is a public artist and author of "The History Of American Grafiti." Here he is with his trove of pictures of Barry McGee's work from the 1980s and 1990s. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

In his Cambridge home he pulled open file draws to show me a trove of photographs from those years. Back then Neelon wrote for a graffiti zine and said McGee was something of a cult figure for graffiti writers, himself included. Neelon especially admires the composition of McGee’s tags, which are basically unique signatures. The artist’s street name was “Twist.”

“All the little details of it, the little star, the little quote mark, the one little opportune drip,” Neelon described. “I know where there’s one where he did a tag in wet cement that’s still around. Well, I’ll even drop the location: It’s on Brookline Street in Cambridge if anybody wants to walk both sides with their head down.”

McGee made unsanctioned — a.k.a. illegal — tags here in the ’80s and ’90s, but at the same time the skilled draftsman, painter and installation artist had exhibitions at a Newbury street gallery and the Rose Art Museum.

Barry McGee’s art below:

 

 

 

Neelon credits McGee with leading the ascendance of graffiti as a respected art form in the U.S., even though he suspects saying so would make the artist cringe.

“There’s always that, you know, funny indoor/outdoor tension with graffiti and moving into galleries or whatever — it’s a pretty old question,” Neelon told me, “but what Barry did better than really anybody else was bring both realms into the other. He brought a lot of fine art techniques into the street, and he brought a lot of good street chaos and grit and energy and unpredictability into galleries.”

Fact is, back at the ICA McGee actually does cringe at this sort of talk.

“I don’t know about that,” the artist said. “I don’t want to do that; I’m not trying to do that, I guess.”

McGee collaborated with Josh Laczano for this piece, which consists of 85 televisions, 30 DVD players, electrical cords, videos and sound. They created this tower after stockpiling discarded sets as most people switched from old-format television to flat screens. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

The 46-year-old said that while standing in a space filled with installations he created out of stuff he found on the streets. A 15-foot-tall tower of television sets blares a gritty soundtrack while streaming footage from surveillance cameras and people writing graffiti. McGee created the sculpture in the early 2000s, but these days he calls it “annoying.”

It’s kind of hard to tell if the soft-spoken artist is being serious, modest or coy. He swipes his angled bangs away from his eyes and paces a bit as we talk about his attraction to graffiti. McGee is definitely a provocateur, but a mild-mannered one. He’s also anti-establishment and anti-consumerism.

“If I live in an urban center — in a city — with constant advertising, I feel like I have every right to partake also. I don’t feel like it should be limited to corporations that can buy ad space. I just always assume that anything written on the wall was the authentic thing to me. The real voice.”

Barry McGee paid homeless men for their empty bottles and then painted these faces on them. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

McGee grew up in South San Francisco where his Irish American father worked on cars and his Chinese-American mother was a secretary. A lot of the artist’s work is both an homage to and critique of the city’s Mission District. Some of his iconic illustrations feature characters you might find there: down-trodden male faces tinged with anguish cover a grouping of empty, clear-glass booze bottles McGee bought from homeless people in the neighborhood.

And graffiti is a common thread throughout the show. That said McGee adamantly stated he does not want to be called a “street artist.”

“It got wildly popular and there was a flood of horrible street art books that came out,” he explained, adding, “It all happened too fast, and people just saw an opportunity to make money, and worked on the street for a week and then jumped into the gallery and started making what is called street art, I guess. It’s horrible, those terms, when they happen. Artist is fine, you know?”

And McGee distances himself from his old graffiti tag, “Twist.”

Detail from "Untitled," 1999/2012, at the ICA (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

“I don’t really identify with any of it that much anymore, as an adult.”

“A part of that is being a middle-aged man, which he admits all the time in a very self-deprecating, comical way,” said ICA senior curator Jenelle Porter. She coordinated McGee’s mid-career survey, which was organized by the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Rim Archive.

“And of course there’s a lot of truth to it, too,” Porter continued, then asked, “I mean, what? You’re going to go out in the middle of the night when your 12-year-old daughter is at home and make graffiti? It’s not interesting to him. That’s the kind of stuff that’s really fun to do when you’re young.”

Now that he’s a parent and older, McGee’s work can sell for $15,000 to $300,000 — although he told me, “it’s not flying off the gallery walls.”

ICA senior curator Jenelle Porter stands next to a grafitti writer sculpture that is part of McGee's installation. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Porter is a huge fan of McGee’s “lines.” She compares them to those drawn by another bay area artist, R. Crumb.

The curator also acknowledges the recurring argument of “graffiti art vs. gallery art,” and sympathizes with McGee’s reluctance to be categorized.

“For ages artists have wanted to very much not be one thing or the other. They absolutely want to straddle. They don’t want to be labeled — I mean, I get it,” she admitted with a little laugh.

And for that, McGee is grateful.

Then the artist asked me an interesting question that says a lot about how he sees the world and his work:

Are you into the magic of art? Just the magic of like, how did that happen? And if you’re standing in front of something and just don’t understand it, but you’re drawn to it? I think it’s one of the last things that still has a magic to it. It just appears.

As it happens some new graffiti has just appeared in this town. You can see it on the back wall of the House of Blues in Boston, overlooking the Mass Pike. It’s connected to McGee’s ICA exhibition, but the artist didn’t do it himself because he said it’s officially sanctioned.

The House of Blues installation (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Barry McGee: Tagging | “Exclusive” | Art21

Published on Apr 5, 2013

Episode #176: Filmed in 2012, this “Exclusive” follows artist Barry McGee through his self-titled retrospective exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). McGee, who became interested in tagging while growing up in San Francisco, describes the excitement of putting up new tags and the rush of getting away with it. Alongside his ongoing and intimate involvement with street culture, McGee has maintained an active studio practice, which he describes as being something “completely different.” These two disparate ways of making—and showing—work meet in “Barry McGee,” which was also shown at the ICA Boston.

A cult figure amongst skaters and graffiti artists, Barry McGee’s drawings, paintings, and mixed-media installations take their inspiration from contemporary urban culture, incorporating elements such as empty liquor bottles and spray-paint cans, tagged signs, wrenches, and scrap wood or metal. McGee is also a graffiti artist, known by the tag “Twist.”

Learn more about the artist at:
http://www.art21.org/artists/barry-mcgee

CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Bob Elfstrom. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Doug Dunderdale. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Barry McGee. Archival Footage Courtesy: Videograf Productions. Archival Images Courtesy: Barry McGee. Special Thanks: UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

“Barry McGee” at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA)
August 24–December 9, 2012
http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/exhibition…

“Barry McGee” at the ICA Boston
April 6–September 2, 2013
http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/…

Barry McGee

About Barry McGee

A lauded and much-respected cult figure in a bi-coastal subculture that comprises skaters, graffiti artists, and West Coast surfers, Barry McGee was born in 1966 in California, where he continues to live and work. In 1991, he received a BFA in painting and printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute. His drawings, paintings, and mixed-media installations take their inspiration from contemporary urban culture, incorporating elements such as empty liquor bottles and spray-paint cans, tagged signs, wrenches, and scrap wood or metal. McGee is also a graffiti artist, working on the streets of America’s cities since the 1980s, where he is known by the tag name “Twist.” He views graffiti as a vital method of communication, one that keeps him in touch with a larger, more diverse audience than can be reached through the traditional spaces of a gallery or museum. His trademark icon, a male caricature with sagging eyes and a bemused expression, recalls the homeless people and transients who call the streets their home. McGee says, “Compelling art, to me, is a name carved into a tree.” His work has been shown at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and on streets and trains all over the United States. He and his daughter, Asha, live in San Francisco.

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