On commercial art

by look i have opinions

“[M]any of the [department store display] windows reveled in their freedom and quickly developed in purely artistic directions. […] Yet even such windows, which seemed to disdain the vulgar sale of merchandise and aspire to higher things, tantalized us by their very aloofness and made us search for secret relations that continued to elude us.”

The Dream of the Consortium, by Steven Millhauser

I like this because it seems to get at one of the big tensions that exists between entertainment and consumers of entertainment. It reminds me of David Foster Wallace’s assertion that advertising can never be art because, at bottom, it is always trying to sell you something. In Wallace’s piece on David Lynch, one of the things he claimed to admire about Lynch was his indifference to his audience, an “aloofness” that made his films authentic and disturbing and intriguing.