The analogy I wish to draw here is blatant. The rhetoric of beauty tells the story of the beholder who, like Masoch’s victim, contracts his own submission — having established, by free consent, a reciprocal, contractual alliance with the image. The signature of this contract, of course, is beauty. […]
The experience of art within the therapeutic institution, however, is presumed to be an end in itself. Under its auspices, we play a minor role in the master’s narrative — the artist’s tale — and celebrate his autonomous acts even as we are off-handedly victimized by their philosophical force and ruthless authority. […] And we, poor beholders, like the silly demimondaines in Sade’s Philosophy of the Bedroom, are presumed to have just wandered in, looking for a kiss, so Pow! Whatever we get, we deserve — and what we get most prominently is ignored, disenfranchised, and instructed. Then told it is “good” for us. (62-63)
From Hickey, Dave. “After the Great Tsunami.” The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty. Los Angeles: Art Issues Press, 1993. 55-64. Print.