Alain de Botton argues that art should be less ambiguous. Is he right?

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Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project at London’s Tate Modern.
Are art galleries the new churches? Alain de Botton seems to think so. In an online article for The Guardian, he implies that galleries have become a contemporary congregation point for atheists and agnostics. Is this really true? I’m not so sure. But de Botton is keen to stress the point, arguing that art museums as they currently stand are inadequate to their newly appointed role: ‘The problem is that modern museums of art fail to tell people directly why art matters, because modernist aesthetics (in which curators are trained) is so deeply suspicious of any hint of an instrumental approach to culture.’ This, we are told, is a bad thing: ‘Christianity, by contrast, never leaves us in any doubt about what art is for: it is a medium to teach us how to live, what to love and what to be afraid of.’ So what is he suggesting? (more…)