News-Piedmont Clock

Eric Nord

U.S.A., b. 1957

This and the other two paintings here by Eric Nord are based on so-called "linen-finish" post cards of the 1940s. The main creative act in these three pictures consists of the transposition of an item of artistic expression from a lower level of culture into the realm of high-cultural consideration. In this sort of work, an artistic expression, originating in and intended for a lower level of culture, is looked at from a high-cultural point of view and found to have artistic validity and merit. It therefore has been imposed into high culture from a lower level thereof.

One is not speaking here of Duchampian ready-mades or of objets trouvés, things that were never intended as artistic interpretation or expression, even at a low level. In that kind of Duchampian art-making, the change of perceptual context for a non-art object is what constitutes the act of artistic creation—not the object's original production by mechanical manufacture or natural process. Instead, in the present, new subtype of art after Post-Modernism, works of mainly popular art are in a sense confiscated and transferred, either relatively intact or by metamorphic interpretive means, to the realm of high art. The original works are thus rescued from the ultimate (and usually quick) oblivion of all low culture—rescued on the basis of their esthetic value when analyzed from a high-cultural point of view.

News-Piedmont Clock
Acrylic on canvas
36.125"w x 60.125"h
Eric Nord
Purple Mountain Majesties
Acrylic on canvas
36.25"w x 60"h
Eric Nord

Why are such works not merely Pop Art? Because Pop Art never asserted that the imagery it recontextualized had artistic merit per se. It simply dismantled the unique status of high art by forcibly introducing icons of popular culture into the high-cultural milieu. Pop Art does not assert that a Campbell's soup can, an American flag, a silkscreened photograph of Marilyn Monroe, or a Donald Duck cartoon possesses interpretational and expressive artistic value. In contrast, that is precisely what works like these by Eric Nord do assert.

Transpositional works like these are inevitable because of the nature of art after Post-Modernism itself. In this new movement's exploration of the entire dimensions of culture at all levels, lower-level art worthy of such transposition is bound to turn up. It is the non-authoritarian esthetic of art after Post-Modernism that will make the proper high-cultural appreciation of such artistic expression possible for the first time, and thereby inevitably lead to more work of similar motives.

1933 Chicago World's Fair
Acrylic on canvas
60"w x 36.25"h
   Eric Nord

April 8, 1997
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