Sunday, March 13, 2005

Modern Art

Saturday was cloudy and dreary, cold and spitting sleet. After wandering around aimlessly for awhile, I decided to stop by the Art Center to refuel my sense of artistic wonder. As usual, it left me with mixed feelings about art. The collection leans significantly toward contemporary art. I'm not averse to modern art, and there are some modern pieces I love and look forward to seeing, even if I don't understand them. There is a white marble statue by Jean Arp, for example, that looks like a blob - but a blob full of voluptuous curves. It is so seductive, it makes me wish for a moment that I were a curator so I could touch its smooth coolness.

But for every piece that makes me stop and gaze and wonder, there is another one that makes me stop and gaze and wonder, "How the hell did he manage to convince anyone that this is art?" There is one painting that is an entirely white canvas, with characters written in pencil in three corners. Another has three panels painted in different shades of beige. (That one was once waggishly referred to as "the national flag of Neutralia.") There are three shop vacs in a plexiglass case. There is a special exhibition now of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera pieces that are - may I be blunt? - chalk and oil scribbles.

I'll give Frida and Diego a pass, because the works were commissioned, and she was sick. But the rest of them? They are considered art apparently because the artist kept saying he was an artist, and he kept saying they were art, until people started believing it. The art is not so much in the execution as in the presentation, and the presentation depends largely on the artist's ability to sell his vision of himself.

To be fair, visual art does not have a lock on this attitude. There are plenty of writers and musicians I find incomprehensible. The point is, they define themselves, produce their art, keep telling people about it until people start believing them.

I have some pastels in the garage, and a sketch pad by my desk. I think I'll go now and scribble me up some modern art. I am an artist, you know.

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