The new Las Vegas Art Museum aspires and intends to present, to its community and to its city's visitors, a continuous schedule of world-class visual-art exhibitions worthy of the growing international status and fame that Las Vegas now enjoys. Aware that it newly opens its doors at a crucial juncture in the history of the fine arts, the museum intends to help earn Las Vegas a position of high creative, critical, and market importance in the international art world. Fabulous Las Vegas deserves no less ambition, effort, and leadership from LVAM.

Because an entire era of art history is now ending--dying along with the 20th century--this museum believes that Las Vegas stands in a unique position to play a major role in fostering the next great age in world art, which is now beginning. In this new art, a regenerative, reconstitutive purpose and direction are rising to supplant the reductive and deconstructive esthetic that has dominated international art since World War II. That completed the 20th century's gradual, systematic dismantlement of the fine arts, ultimately yielding an extreme or even total divestiture of the former expressive and technical resources of the several artistic disciplines.

Since the various fine arts have been analytically dismantled--completely picked apart and broken down--the important and indeed inevitable work now confronting serious artists is to pick up the junked pieces and put these art forms back together again in unlimited new ways. The Las Vegas Art Museum ratifies and will exemplify the critical view that if artists are to avoid merely perpetuating the stripped-down, fully deconstructed, Post-Modern esthetic--which has now reductively dead-ended--then the only logical direction available to them is to reclaim innovatively the lost and abandoned resources of technique and content in their now dismantled artistic disciplines.

Yet artists must do this while observing the lessons of the 20th century's analytic dismantlement of art, so as not to simply rehash or recycle art history's past. Moreover, because of the essential legacy of Pop Art, artists of the highest cultural ambition can now adequately reconstitute the fine arts only by utilizing the available expressive resources found in all levels of culture. In today's diverse and chaotic culture, the most competent and valuable art will be that which makes the fullest and richest use of the entire range of culture at all levels, both past and present.

The future of the fine arts, of art after post-modernism, encourages artists to explore all levels of the surrounding culture for their innovative purposes--and Las Vegas possesses unequalled wealth at the all-pervasive level of popular culture and entertainment. Appropriately, the new LVAM intends to participate to the fullest in the coming great era in world art, by exhibiting, fostering, and validating the most importrant art of today, and of the 21st century. The museum will thus promote Las Vegas as an international center for this new, next phase of art history.

Las Vegas has recently built a number of libraries in daring, innovative architecture, including the Sahara West complex housing the new Las Vegas Art Museum itself. Beyond these new libraries, there is a building boom of highly imaginative, radically innovative architecture in Las Vegas: in other government buildings, in many commerical (retail and office) buildings, and of course in the fabulous new hotel-casinos. Great creative daring is already present in the building-scape of LasVegas, a new-urban built environment that can more plausibly lay claim to the new esthetic principles of art after Post-Modernism than can any other city worldwide.

This new, forward-looking esthetic explores all levels of culture for its own, ad hoc expressive purposes. Thus it uses some mores and manners for which Las Vegas is the already existing archetype, such as the visual vernacular of its protean electrified art: the spectacular, architectural, neo-lit night-scape which so indelibly protrays the unique urbanism of Las Vegas in the American, and now the world's, popular mind. And this enduring image is newly, sensationally augmented by the Fremont Street Experience, the light-frescoed, star-struck cathedral vault for Las Vegas as secular, showbiz pantheon.

For half a century, New York was the world's creative, critical, exhibition, and market center for the most advanced art of its time. The art of that now-bygone era began with the reductive, late-modern esthetic of Abstract Expressionism, and through this esthetic's minimalizing prgress, reached the era's logical terminus in the "dematerialized" art of deconstructive Post-Modernism. Today, a profound cultural break has occurrred worldwide with the emergence of the new esthetic and philosophical principles of art after Post-Modernism, and there is no inherent reason why New York should be the exhibition and economic center for this new age in art.

On the other hand, the already exisiting architecture and cultural nature of Las Vegas make it a city eminently eligible to step forward as a highly important, even dominant center for the nascent worldwide movement of art after post-modernism. Since this new movement incorporates the only and inevitable intellectual principles which can adequately interpret and represent the next era of human art and culture at their highest level, the new Las Vegas Art Museum's ambition and mission are to help lead its artistic, cultural, and economic community to a viable future as a world capital of the fine arts in the 21st century.


--James Mann, Ph.D., Curator
Las Vegas Art Museum, Nevada, USA