Before I go into my extended rant on why Modern art is bad for humanity in general, let me give a little history into this whole revelation. First and foremost I come from an incredibly artistic family [or at least from my perspective they are]. I have two aunts on my mother’s side [one doing modern art, one teaching art]. On my Dad’s side of the family my dad does photography [his flickr stream is here] and my Great Aunt, my Uncle, and My Grandmother all do water-color or oil painting. Because of this upbringing, I’ve come to just accept the various fights about which art style is best as part of the diatribe.
But the thing that prompted this particular post comes from a conversation that myself and some friends were having about the turn of 21st century [It’s no wonder I’m single]. We were discussing the nature of how things have shifted in terms of global paradigm between 1800 and today and one of the things that came up was the invention of modern art.
You see, I am of the belief that Modern Art came around for the same reason that most people go to business they don’t like. The fact of the matter is that Photography had been invented and was finally gaining some steam in the late 19th and early 20th century. As a repercussion of that, what we end up with is Artist needing a way to compete with all of the various devices that were essentially taking their jobs. You can really start to see this as the Impressionist movement begins to take off in the mid 1870’s. You see, the first camera had been invented somewhere around the turn of the 19th century, and it was finally starting to find its place in the world, this was essentially taking an artist job.
Prior to the 19th century, a lot of artist tended to make a profit from doing portraits. You have to remember that even though art has this certain emotional appeal to the audience, at the end of the day it is someone’s job. As such they have to find a way to make a profit off of selling their artwork to others. For most of the European renaissance as well as a healthy portion of the industrial revolution, artist would accomplish this by selling their portraits of others. Well either that or they tended to stick to more religiously themed outlets [Angels, God, etc].
Now, a few things happened to the artistic movement, the first being that a side effect of the Renaissance generated a healthy amount of backlash against the church. this Started with small things like the division of the Catholic Church by movers and shakers like Martin Luther, and culminated with things like the public announcement of the first atheist in the mid to late 18th century. The second thing that happened was as mentioned above the invention of a device that could actually just take a portrait of someone in a fraction of the time compared to the average painting or portrait.
So, with artist suddenly having their fresh stock of things people like to pay for dry up underneath them, they figured out that it was a good time to actually think about rethink their marketing. It is my suspicion that this is where the Impressionist movement ended up crawling out of. The idea that it was no longer financially feasible to attempt to compete with a camera when it came to things like landscapes and portraits. As such, they had to change the name of the game for art, they had to make art more profitable. Oh yes, I’m sure there is some evidence that art changes over time anyway, the ultimately there will be artistic movements. But those movements tended to be about shifting the subject matter, the material, how dark or light the setting was. It had yet to be seen a movement that looked at the current artistic standards and thought to itself… “Fuck it, that looks to much like what a camera could probably do better, back to the drawing board (literally)”.
So you get movements like Impressionism which tried to test the waters so to speak with artist like Claude Monet. So they would come to find out that Monet and others like him did set the trend for what the next real “Artistic Style” would be, inspiring the Post Impressionist movement with artist now well-known like Vincent Van Gogh. I feel it fair to point out right here and now that one of the most important Post Impressionist artist today killed himself because he couldn’t make a dime off of his work. You see, hindsight is 20/20 here. We only know about these artist today because the art community managed to convince the world [and it did take some convincing] that the more abstract styles were appropriate for art.
In so doing, Art slowly takes this downward spiral, first bumping into Cubism where you have folks like Pablo Picasso saying “Hey, it’s ok… I actually know how to draw, you don’t have to worry.” So folks look at cubism, know that the entire movement is a pile of shit, but Picasso is just decent enough an artist that they’ll buy his bullshit about the movement being inspired by “Geometric Shapes” as opposed to its true inspiration “Horseshit for Cash”.
Anyway, long story short, this story continues to spiral down until eventually we run into things like Modern art. It took about 100 years for the Art community to sell the rest of the world on this one, but they finally managed to convince everyone that “Simplicity that expresses a large range of emotions is key”. Again, this is artistic code for “Food is expensive, please feed me.” But in getting society to buy into this whole “It’s about the emotion that I invested into it, not the painting itself.” And what you get is a series of artistic movements that are honestly just terrible. I honestly think that Minimalism takes the cake when it comes to seeing how far they could press the limits on what is and isn’t art.
So… what isn’t bullshit?
My theory here is that in the “Not Bullshit” department, the award needs to go to Computer Generated Images, Flash Animation, Video Game Design, Movies. For the first time, art is taking in other media [Music] and including it in its approach to things. In additions, fields like photography are playing with exposure times and the like to establish a better portfolio. I think that these are the real “Art” of the 20th and 21st Centuries. My thought is that when we do look back on this in some 300 years, Art Historians will think to themselves “Art tried to get lazy on everyone, but it turns out the non art community is not as foolish as might have been thought”.
Anyway, I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. Realize again that I have a lot of relatives that will happily disagree with me as to which art is best art(sic), but I think I speak with a fair amount of confidence when I say that there is some disagreement in the art community in the whole as to if Modern art and some of its relatives are actually art at all. I think it’s bullshit, you may not, feel free to leave your interesting comments below! 😀