Modern Art: An Exhibition in Criticism

No one familiar with Michael Curtis would call him unexacting. His work displays a keen, critical mind, bringing beauty to the senses and banishing ugliness where he finds it. Modern Art is a playful exercise in the latter. It is a no-holds-barred declaration of war on the makers of Modern Art, using the sharpest weapon for the job: satire.


The verses of Modern Art: An Exhibition in Criticism are intended to be employed like a rusty-nailed-fencepost by which you may beat pretentious Modernists about the head, repeatedly. The author leaves out no cheap trick of meter or of rhyme to achieve his ends. He employs adolescent singsong, doggerel, slanting rhyme—in short, every—mischiefmaking device he can borrow or invent is used in a manner that would shame lesser poets. Yes, he stoops to conquer. Indeed, conquest is his aim; his tactic, wit; his weapons, mudslinging, ridicule, name-calling, and other dirty tricks of antique pedigree.

Recently, around the Fool’s day of April, The National Civic Art Society published Modern Art: An Exhibition in Criticism, among the projects accomplished in my NCAS year of Fellowship.  Justin Shubow, NCAS President, curated the verses, sending some to obscurity, rescuing others, and NCAS Treasurer, David Talbot, a most excellent poet, composed a forward that shall serve as inspiration, encouragement toward excellence.