Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Danger Artist

We've been meaning to recommend Michael Kimmelman's excellent piece on bullfighting from last Sunday's Times. Amusingly, it makes the point early on that

Aficionados will rightly tell you that toreo is not a sport; in Spanish newspapers, it is never featured on the sports pages.

The story ran, of course, in the Times' sports magazine supplement. But still, the reason his piece is so good is because, unlike most Americans assigned to write about the bullfight, Kimmelman is not a sportswriter, but rather the paper's chief art critic. So he, y'know, gets it.

It occurred to me then that [bullfighter Cayetano Rivera] sounded like an artist. Bullfighting survives its own social anachronism not just because of its machismo mythology, but also because of an irrational, purely visceral response that fans and bullfighters like Rivera share. Being irrational, it defies normalization, remaining something exotic even in Spain. And in the end this describes the way art tends to operate. That’s not a moral judgment. It merely helps explain the eloquence that some people find in what others see as utterly worthless and contemptible.


Anonymous said...

Enough said!
Kimmelman's piece said it all!


Burro Hall said...

I knew you'd come around eventually.

Anonymous said...

I guess you see what you want.