The Admissions officers at Vienna's Akademie der bildenden K√ľnste must be a melancholy lot: in 1907, and again in 1908, Adolf Hitler applied for admission to the drawing class, and was twice turned down. It's a melancholy that should affect most everyone who teaches Art: give the kid a pass already, and spare us the Invasion of Poland.

True, George W. Bush was admitted to Yale, and that didn't help Iraq; but how much damage can an art historian do? I'll take Philippe de Montebello, the ex-director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, over his ancestor General Lannes, one of the most vicious butchers in Napoleon's army, any time. This must be what John Adams meant when he said his generation were genocidal racists so that their grandchildren might be powerless twits.



Politics, as Adams thought, was based on competence and skill — that was before Mitt Romney. Culture, by contrast, had nothing to do with skill or knowledge; it was a birthright, an inheritance. Now, as in the days of Young Man Schicklgruber, the fantasy's afloat that politics and art alike are a matter of natural right; and, as in those days, we're mobbed by Kulturlovers for whom Art-Love is just another form of patriotism, which, as another Viennese pointed out, is just another form of narcissism. As my old elitist university used to advertise, "I am the CEO of ME, Incorporated." Well, if you're the CEO, who's the Compliance Officer? The illusion that knowing, or loving, or understanding Art originates in some kind of genetic privilege, is not far from the delusion that one incarnates the Master Race.

So to all you art-lovers out there, to you and you and you:




- PW.

[8/2/2012; revised 8/3/2012.]