Letter: Portrait of the artist as linguist

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TOM WOLFE'S withering dissection of post-war American art in his book The Painted Word isn't as Blake Morrison's spin states (Essay, Culture, 21 February). Rather, Wolfe suggested that questionable art was created to illustrate, consciously or not, dodgy theory dreamt up by artists and critics alike, and then used to legitimate the art. Mr Morrison's idea, therefore, that "the last word lies with art itself" is an illusion arising when viewers' perceptions are mediated by the same shared theories and assumptions. Artists have a duty to explain their work, and should be valued for this - as long as they can distinguish explanation from empty verbiage.


Kensington & Chelsea College

London SW10