Modern art

March 6, 2007 at 4:19 pm (philosophy of the arts)

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18 Comments

  1. silent surrender said,

    I was at the Philadelphia art museum not too long ago when I stumbled across the modern “art” section. This section included such works as lightbulbs scattered on the floor, (and yes I did ask if this was actually a piece of art) a white canvas with a black line drawn on it, paper mache vases (that were badly misshapen and not fully painted), and what looked like a finger painting. I must admit there were several good works like a collage of war pictures through the ages, and… well not much else.

    Now, art is supposed to express something, but what do these steaming piles (this is probably be another modern art work) express, that you are a bad electrician? That you can’t think of anything else to draw except a line? Or maybe that even kindergardeners can be artists? Maybe these “artists” think that by doing something pointless or simple, they are being original, but they aren’t, they’re wasting their time and mine. But the saddest thing is these people are serious.

    I appreciate most forms of art to the highest degree, but I think this is a feeble attempt at art due to a lack of originality and thought. If you see the point of modern art, please enlighten me, if you agree with me, rant on, and if you have another opinion, please

  2. kenichi said,

    “But the saddest thing is these people are serious”.

    This is the key sentence. Dada artists never took themselves seriously. In fact, they considered their works “anti-art.” Although I don’t particularly care for dada, I am not so offended by it because it lacks pretension. Modern art has lost the anti-art philosophy.

  3. the boss said,

    I can’t remember which award but last year (or the year before?) the winner of an australian art award was a work called “Flashing lightbulb in a room” which consisted of, you guessed it, a flashing lightbulb in a bare room. I don’t think the reporter understood the concept of Dada as she asked the artist, very seriously, about the profound meaning of it (she must have assumed that because it won an award it was profound). She got the simple reply “Nothing, it’s just a lightbul that isn’t screwed in properly in a room that is stripped down.” The look on the reporters face was priceless.

    More informed reports indicated that the judges were sick of all of the forced meaning

  4. the boss said,

    I can’t remember which award but last year (or the year before?) the winner of an australian art award was a work called “Flashing lightbulb in a room” which consisted of, you guessed it, a flashing lightbulb in a bare room. I don’t think the reporter understood the concept of Dada as she asked the artist, very seriously, about the profound meaning of it (she must have assumed that because it won an award it was profound). She got the simple reply “Nothing, it’s just a lightbul that isn’t screwed in properly in a room that is stripped down.” The look on the reporters face was priceless.

    More informed reports indicated that the judges were sick of of the forced meaning in the works that they were viewing so picked one without it.

  5. the boss said,

    I can’t remember which award but last year (or the year before?) the winner of an australian art award was a work called “Flashing lightbulb in a room” which consisted of, you guessed it, a flashing lightbulb in a bare room. I don’t think the reporter understood the concept of Dada as she asked the artist, very seriously, about the profound meaning of it (she must have assumed that because it won an award it was profound). She got the simple reply “Nothing, it’s just a lightbul that isn’t screwed in properly in a room that is stripped down.” The look on the reporters face was priceless.

    More informed reports indicated that the judges were sick of the forced meaning in the works that they were viewing so picked one without it.

  6. kalaatu said,

    About modern art, it’s one of those things that needs an aquired taste. In every age there’s good and bad art. You just have to maintain some standard of judgment.

    Personally, I like some modern/postmodern stuff. A lot of formalism is quite good, there’s performance art, and the outdoor sculpture can be very beautiful. Even the more conceptual stuff can be good, you just have to take it for what it is. I’ve really seen very little, and sometimes it takes the right artist or moment to make it happen.

    Then again, a lot of it makes me want to vomit. But that’s to be expected… it’s nothing new

  7. lyte said,

    Not too long ago art was considered to be one of the greatest proficiencies of man’s amazing intellect, it established man’s progress and exemplified his artistic soulful nature. Today, that idealistic concept of art has been mangled to represent nothing more than garbage heaps, purple icebergs, human waste and the poetic gold fish in a blender routine. All that art meant to classical or renaissance artists has been polluted with the notion that “art” can be anything, anyway, anyhow. The decline of “real art” has been a severe misfortune to humanity; children are being taught that all “modern art” is expressive and beautiful in its own way. Some granted, can be- but please forgive me if I fail to see the exquisite elegiacness of the feces display.

  8. jaoman said,

    Ah, modern art… I remember some years ago there was a lot of buzz around a video of a fine artiste massacring a live rat. Sweet and salty, eh…

    In fact, slandering modern art isn’t entirely accurate: the fault may very well lie in the viewers. Which, considering the purpose of art, may be the most BS I’ve ever said, but hear me out. What I see when I look toward modern art is a reversal of values. Instead of celebrating beauty, as did the Renascence and those that followed, artists search for pain and ugliness. Modern photography, for example, shows its best face in capturing slums and African children dieing of starvation. However, while this is going on, many still judge art by the classical standards. This incompatibility produces much of the friction and confusion surrounding modern art.

  9. kenichi said,

    I think you may be right jaoman. That is for many people. However, I know that I slander modern art for other reasons. There are two reasons in fact.
    1. It emphasizes concept over craftsmanship. When was the last time a modern artist was criticized for their brushstroke technique?
    2. Lack of falsifiability. It cannot be known whether modern artists have achieved their original goal. For example, if Claude Loraine tries to paint a ship, we can judge how well this is done (does or does it not look like a ship). But if a modern artist tries to paint happiness, how does one judge that?

  10. flat6 said,

    I like modern art. It makes me think about art in general… and makes me wonder if any of the critics of modern art can prove that there is a higher worth to painting a Mona Lisa vs. a . If all that one can come up with is something like…

    “ART: The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.”

    Then the fact that people enjoy a type of art makes that art worthwhile. Really, until you clearly establish what makes one type of art of a higher value than another, it’s just all a matter of preference. I know that intuitively I prefer one type of art over another, but my intuition and preference is absolutely worthless if I am to make the discussion meaningful and productive. Stricter terms and approaches have to be used…

  11. mefisto said,

    quick question…. how many of you all are practicing fine artists?

  12. jaoman said,

    I’m an aspiring writer. tryin to make it big and lookin for a hand at soul magazine.
    Why is that of relevance though?

  13. mefisto said,

    someones it can be… sometimes its not…. as in terms of art critics or art historians who never touch a brush.
    thought who would you all deem more credible at talking about baseball… one who plays it or one who is just a fan… or maybe not a fan at all.

  14. jaoman said,

    With the exception of a total ignorant, I see no plausible way to find preference between perspectives. In art as in baseball, the player’s view is important, but his skill and continuance in that role is centered and dependant upon the fan. I would further contest that only a true master can speak insightfully of his art. And no “true master” would ever be slandered by the consumer.

  15. cyberflaneur said,

    silent surrender wrote:
    I was at the Philadelphia art museum not too long ago when I stumbled across the modern “art” section. This section included such works as lightbulbs scattered on the floor, (and yes I did ask if this was actually a piece of art) a white canvas with a black line drawn on it, paper mache vases (that were badly misshapen and not fully painted), and what looked like a finger painting. I must admit there were several good works like a collage of war pictures through the ages, and… well not much else.

    Now, art is supposed to express something, but what do these steaming piles (this is probably be another modern art work) express, that you are a bad electrician? That you can’t think of anything else to draw except a line? Or maybe that even kindergardeners can be artists? Maybe these “artists” think that by doing something pointless or simple, they are being original, but they aren’t, they’re wasting their time and mine. But the saddest thing is these people are serious.

    I appreciate most forms of art to the highest degree, but I think this is a feeble attempt at art due to a lack of originality and thought. If you see the point of modern art, please enlighten me, if you agree with me, rant on, and if you have another opinion, please post it.

    Lyotard has a good analysis of the avant garde in art in his books.

    Most of the time, avant garde art is trying to express something that is impossible to put into words with the same effect. For example, if I wanted to represent the emotion and the idea of “horror”, I could paint a picture of some horrific event. But this would not be as palpable as some other forms that can be expressed in avant garde art because it can seem “cartoonish” or a caricature or perhaps a ersatz version of the actual phenomenon that can produce such a feeling or idea of horror.

    Other ideas and feelings like “infinitude” or “grandeur” or “wonder” or “emptiness” for example can all be expressed through alternative forms of art that would be very difficult with traditional methods.

  16. mefisto said,

    jaoman wrote:
    ”With the exception of a total ignorant, I see no plausible way to find preference between perspectives. In art as in baseball, the player’s view is important, but his skill and continuance in that role is centered and dependant upon the fan. I would further contest that only a true master can speak insightfully of his art. And no “true master” would ever be slandered by the consumer”.

    i believe the persons skill is not dependent on the fan. that that person can grow in skill level without the fan. the talent is there regardless of the fan. its the “commercial” part thats dependent on the fan. totaly seperate aspects. most of the time … in art that is… the artists knows more about art then the laymen. You dont expect the layment to know about art because he isnt in the game in the first place. However, if he has taken some time out of his life to study art then thats a different case. These are all generalizations but it holds some wieght. Most folks that i hear slandering “modern art” and using “sterile” art as example to say “anyone can do that” are ignorant about the significance of such a “sterile” piece. Why its there, whats the point, what it means etc. I hear a lot of people talk shit about the art piece called “shit in a can” and never once understand the point of it all. You don’t have to be an artist to get it or understand it at all.. thats not what im saying… but more times then none… its those passionate artists that by default of the trade thier in alone expose themselves to the significance of pieces of art that the laymen ignores or shuns due to ignorance. Its a presence of proximity type of issue. The laymen can take it upon himself/herself to familarize himself/herself to the significance of the piece without being an artist but since they arent in the trade in the first place its less likely that that will happen as compared to the one who is in the trade.

  17. jaoman said,

    mestizo wrote:
    i believe the persons skill is not dependent on the fan. that that person can grow in skill level without the fan.

    Goes without saying.
    mestizo wrote:
    the talent is there regardless of the fan.

    But not this. Despite all the work and the leather wisdom and the craft, only a foot can judge a well made shoe.
    mestizo wrote:
    most of the time … in art that is… the artists knows more about art then the laymen. You dont expect the layment to know about art because he isnt in the game in the first place. However, if he has taken some time out of his life to study art then thats a different case. These are all generalizations but it holds some wieght. Most folks that i hear slandering “modern art” and using “sterile” art as example to say “anyone can do that” are ignorant about the significance of such a “sterile” piece. Why its there, whats the point, what it means etc. I hear a lot of people talk shit about the art piece called “shit in a can” and never once understand the point of it all. You don’t have to be an artist to get it or understand it at all.. thats not what im saying… but more times then none… its those passionate artists that by default of the trade thier in alone expose themselves to the significance of pieces of art that the laymen ignores or shuns due to ignorance. Its a presence of proximity type of issue. The laymen can take it upon himself/herself to familarize himself/herself to the significance of the piece without being an artist but since they arent in the trade in the first place its less likely that that will happen as compared to the one who is in the trade.

    But, you see, I cannot possibly conceive how this could stand. So now we’re making pieces solely for elites? (And who’s to make the bread now?) Well, suppose I make art solely for monkeys? Who’s the judge me wrong if the monkey’s jump around happily? Our art loses all meaning when it stops being a product.

  18. mefisto said,

    mestizo wrote:
    ”perhaps a bad analogy? your analogys only strength is also its weakness…. it holds that a “foot” is the sole judgement…. that without the foot… the shoe is worthless. understood… however… art is art regardless of audience. it holds even if no ones there to look at it or understand it… because the artist…created it… the artists is the only audience if no one else is. also…a shoe is “functional” first… and in some cases the “art” of it is just as imporant. if one wanted to use the shoe as soley art alone…. giving the finger to function… then your analogy doesn’t apply… but its still art and still can be judged without function. fine art is primarily “fine” because it says “fuck you” to function (in most cases)”.

    This, and…
    mestizo wrote:
    ”i disagree with the product part. art is bigger then commercialization”.

    …this, are not the same thing. What you describe in your rebuttal of my shoe analogy is not an art “bigger than commercialization” but an art “smaller than…”

    Why do we have art? At all. Supposedly, on the surface, and largely in league with the modern attitude (“everything is art”), art is the only thing that serves no purpose at all ? exempting, perhaps, the satisfaction of the artist. Or, at the least, I?ve never seen nor heard such a purpose stated. And how can there be if anything can be art? However, that is faulty. Art most definitely has a purpose: communication on a higher level than spontaneously verbal. It pushes at the boundaries of human interaction and achievement. It makes the consumer aware of more than in an average moment of everyday life. That serves much. Think please, then; what good is a communication that fails to communicate? If you take the non-artiste’ out of the picture, if you make “specialized” art that can only be understood by the few who care and look in just the right way, you’re deviating from artistic purpose and truly making art pointless.

    no … never said anything about elites…. simply those who are shaving off thier ignorance of modern or post modern art. i disagree with the product part. art is bigger then commercialization.

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