Modern Art is bullshit

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.

Portrait of the count PB Sheremetev

From the Russian Neoclassicism Movement

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)”.

Woman with a Parasol,

Claude Monet's Woman with a Parasol

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! 😀

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62 Responses to Modern Art is bullshit

  1. Fernando says:

    What would you say about Film (Moving Pictures) and Photographic Journalism. They may not come from the brush but they are in it of themselves children of art, just in a different form. Or are you just taking it against ‘paintings?” in general?

    • fullphaser says:

      Hey Fernando! 😀

      I think I lump Film and Photography in with Video Games, CGI and the likes as legitimate forms of the artistic movement, it is about the style of art as opposed to the emotion, actually moving the movement as a whole forward.

  2. D-All-D says:

    Why don’t you create a piece of art to express your feelings.

    • fullphaser says:

      http://i.imgur.com/waXzw.jpg – It’s a Post Modern Minimalist Duck, a Mallard to be specific. It reflects a general distrust of the situation as a whole and combines that with a unique perspective on color theory and the use of the color pink. I feel like the color pink expresses a slight hope but it is quickly overwhelmed by the Duck as a Whole.

      Oh you meant non Modern art didn’t you? It’s going to take me a week or two to get back to Chattanooga, so give me a bit =3

      • I’ve just been reading about Ai Weiwei the Chinese contemporary artist. Your duck is better than any of his work I can find on the net. Maybe he hides all his good stuff.
        However… if someone is willing to pay millions of dollars for a packet of peanuts positioned in a deep and meaningful manner then that’s their choice – fools and their money etc.
        Personally, I would pay 1 whole American dollar for a signed, limited edition print of your duck – you could then claim to be an artist – one that has actually sold something which is pretty rare.

  3. Alex F says:

    Modern/Contemporary art doesn’t mimic life, it relies on abstraction instead. I don’t see why this is “lazy”, compared to, say, video game design that attempts to create humans as life-like as possible. Its far more difficult to create an entirely new visual language than to recreate exactly what you see in front of you.

    • Cayenne says:

      And are you adept at recreating exactly what you see in front of you? Have you ever looked in a mirror and tried to draw a self portrait? Without reality, there would be no abstraction. Therefore, I believe that before an artist starts playing with pretty colors and weird shapes that represent random crap, they should have full knowledge of and ability to portray what the human eyes see each and every day.

      • uririn says:

        I actually think you have it backwards. Without abstraction, reality as you perceive it wouldn’t exist. What causes you to think that anything is beautiful in the first place? Modern art is more of a reflection into the power of images on a basic human level. I used to feel the same way about modern art but if you keep an open mind and a desire to learn then it will grow on you.

      • Cayenne says:

        I’ve just evaluated my opinion on abstraction versus reality because I liked your point about reality being percieved, and now my head hurts. How can there be abstraction from a reality if the concept of “reality” never really existed in the first place?

      • Tommygun says:

        Here I define reality to be a common perception of the real world amongst people. An Abstraction is then a view of the real world which may or may not be shared amongst people. Reality is therefore a particular case of an abstraction. If reality (perception) didn’t exist then we would all be crazy 🙂 If reality (the real world) didn’t exist, where would be no minds to abstract it.

      • TheOddStrange says:

        uririn has a point. Color, shape, and whatnot are what makes up our reality. However, these basic elements are only an intermediate product- a means to an end. Modern art is like not being able to see the forest for the trees.
        In fact, that just sparked an idea- why don’t you try looking at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBk3ynRbtsw This is a piece by Ryan Woodward, called Thought of You. In it is displayed a tremendous amount of skill- the ability to completely internalize and compile two moving bodies in space, classic imitational drawing. Yet in it is a lot of abstraction- an uplifting abstraction, something both beautiful to look at and emotionally stirring at the same time.
        The happy meeting of the two art forms- heck, the perfect match of the two- is this: the real world matched with a touch of what the artist feels. Not pure shapes and colors. Something we can feel and relate to, something that we can love. Something that is more real than real- truth.

      • saturnjanet says:

        Upon close inspection of something/anything or under a microscope what our eyes see is seemingly abstract.

  4. gman says:

    When I look at modern art I don’t think that it is bullshit, however, what I do think is bullshit is exactly what fullphaser was making a joke about above. In other words, all the emotions and symbols and metaphors blah blah blah that the artists like to slap into some explanation. No, that is crap. I realize that every viewer has a different perspective when they look at a piece of art and one person could perhaps feel all of those things but for the artist to slap a all of that puff on there is totally unnecessary. Besides, I’ve always felt that the majority of people who are all about modern art are just keeping up with the jones’. It’s about the buzz not the art itself.

  5. icdonadon says:

    Evoking a wide range of emotions with simplicity: isn’t that the same as like, farting?

    Awesome job calling Pablo Picasso out. I remember looking at a book of his stuff with my mom when I was a little kid and being like, no, no, mom, you are wrong. that cant be right…can it?

  6. Scott says:

    get a fucking job you people

  7. Ryan Demaree says:

    I agree to an extent with this post.

    Alot of modern art is just that, pretentious overhyped bullshit.

    BUT

    That doesnt mean that all of it is.

    You state how you can even kinda see how impressionists and expressionists like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh can be seen as valid, worthy artists but then you skip ahead a little bit and start dissing cubism. All I can say is…wtf?…..Have you seen any cubist work beyond picasso? Have you yourself studied cubism or done a cubist painting or know someone who has? Have you ever even painted before? My guess is a resounding, no.

    I myself take alot of inspiration from cubism as a whole and have done a decent amount of cubist paintings in my years as being a painter. I myself am a traditional paint to canvas abstract-surrealist painter and I feel i fit under the “Modern art” category.

    Your views on cubism are shallow and ignorant. I would like you to see you replicate one of the following 2 paintings

    1. Guernica- Picasso
    2. Popova: Two figures- Georges Braque

    My strong guess is that you cannot replicate either.
    If you dislike them, tell me why.

    Cubism has done alot in terms of dimensionality. Cubism isnt simple, there can be many dimensions and perspectives to a cubist piece that not just anyone can create.

    Not all art needs to be a photo realistic painting of a kitten or a tree.

    Thats what seperates a painting from a work of art.

    Even the great classics like Michelangelo apply a decent amount of “abstraction” to their work because their work is NOT photo-realism. It comes down to style and what youre trying to convey. many classics were trying to convey a pure/holy and religious look while many cubists go for a dimensional/ tribal look.

    My largest/ one of my best paintings happens to be a cubist piece that took 55+ hrs to paint over the period of 1 week. Along with 3 hrs of photography/ photo file editing process] – I photograph and edit all of my own artwork.

    In fact on avg. my paintings tend to take 20+ hrs over the period of 2-3 days

    When you say modern art sucks you have to remember that you are also dissing the fairly realistic works of the surrealists as well such as Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and Max Ernst.

    A movement which while fairly representational also played on psychology and complex illusions. I would love to see how you can consider that bullshit.

    Or even modern surrealist/ fantasy painter- H.R. Giger. Not only is his work beautiful and interesting, it also branches out into sculpture and film making.

    To get to the core of your message tho, YES some modern art is pure GARBAGE. artists like

    1.Andy Warhol
    2.Tracey Emin
    3.Jeff Koons
    4. Mark Rothko

    etc.

    But Picasso? lmao thats just a joke statement in itself dude….sorry…but it is..

    I think bottomline what im trying to say is that if something has a clear technique to it that can be clearly explained and has aesthetic beauty as well as some sort of interesting concept or style to it then it is good art.

    Cubism fits the criteria, as does Surrealism, Expressionism and various other modern art movements. They have a tecnique, aesthetic beauy and an interesting concept.
    Guernica and the persistance of memory are 2 very popular examples that show the power of modern art.

    Movies and video games as well as photography are GREAT leaps for artistic expression and a true symbol of our time for art.

    I myself love science fiction movies and movies that reflect on our culture and species etc.
    But lets be honest here, the same bubbleheaded garbage exists in every artistic field. Movies like twilight and tv shows like jersey shore that basically perpetuate A. constant idiocy in a non-realistic environment or B. very poor and shallow story
    Or how about snapshot emo photography? etc.

    I myself do a little bit of photography, although not too often. I only take pictures of things that I find interesting, abandoned houses, rare scenes etc. I am also a beginner astrophotographer [I image the planets and the moon]

    Regarding painting

    Paintings dont have to be photo-realistic images of kittens and landscapes or religious scenery in order to have validity BUT nor should a work of “art” be a blank canvas or a picture of a soup can.

    You gotta look for what suits you and ask yourself if it has a clear technique, aesthetic beauty, as well as a concept that interests you. If so, then congrats, if not, then move on.

    Hope this at least somewhat provided a different point of view.

    Heres an example of my artwork for anyone interested

    http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-ryan-demaree.html – FineArtAmerica

    http://rev-ryan.deviantart.com/ – DeviantART

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Ryan-Demaree/119542394826361 -Facebook page

    • I love you for defending Cubism so thoroughly and convincingly. Magnificent stuff, my good man!

    • TheOddStrange says:

      Ehh, you might want to be careful of that, man. If somebody offends you by dissing an artform, don’t ask him to try and replicate it. It’s a weak argument that makes you look like an indignant fanboy. In fact, the ‘replication’ bit goes against the modern art thing, since the movement is apparently about not copying anything at all… or at least, that’s what some people state anyways.
      Otherwise, I do agree with your arguments here. This article could have done with a more balanced tone.

    • Catarina says:

      I agree with you except for Warhol. Have you seen his work before he started doing pop art? It was totally artistic and with great quality.

      What is wrong with his work after that period is that he wanted so badly to be famous that he left the true art aside and did it in a way that he lost his individuality, something which any work of art should have to be complete.
      However, if you study him deeper you’ll see that he questioned the work of art itself in a way that only an artistic mind would think of doing, and that is having an artistic way of thinking.

      Individuality in a work appears when the artist himself is free from society, when he has his own way of viewing the world. If you see it this way, you’ll get that is has to do with understanding human nature, otherwise a great work of art cannot be appreciated in a timeless manner.
      The only way a work is timeless is when its essence is so universal that it passes the test of time, or when it breaks rules and influences art history.
      So if it has to do with human nature, why can’t you use what you see in your day to day life and make it an artwork?
      He questioned these problems and put it out questioning why art is art. And he was the first in several ways.
      So although his work does not have the individuality a work should have, he had a philosophical way of thinking. And what is the purpose of an artwork if not to show us another perception of reality, to make us think?
      The problem was that the rich saw in him an opportunity for a perfect business, and now almost everything that is done is worthless. Warhol already did it and it had its importance at the time.
      We already thought about it, we don’t need replicas of him. We need work with quality.

      I’m a figurative artist and I don’t like most conceptual art. I think it is ruining the art world and making true art seem like it is illustration. A true visual artwork should be able to live alone, it shouldn’t need a text behind. If it is good people will write about it, “passing from feeling to meaning”. But still, I still think Warhol should be valued because it has another kind of interest.
      Artists like Rebecca Horn (my favorite conceptual artist because, if you see her work live, it’s impossible to ignore) exist also because of these people who questioned art history.

      But it has gone too far and now true artists are being ignored.

      If you care check my work to see how much my work has nothing to do with conceptual art: http://catarinagarcia.carbonmade.com

  8. Autonomous Painter says:

    Instead of a ‘but I like modern art’ vs ‘but I don’t’ kind of argument.. turn the question around to arts cultural purpose. Modern art, is ‘art about art’ vs traditional art which was ‘art about life’ i.e. it reflected and expressed narratives that were intrinsic to a given society and culture. From this perspective we can ONLY THEN say that contemporary art does not culturally function or work. It is all about the oxymoron of communicating the subjective and the personal vs communicating something we ALL collectively agree is culturally important and significant.
    As Kant quite rightly says, the statement, ‘this is beautiful to me and not to you’ is nonsensical, as aesthetics is part of a cultural language, not an isolate. If it try’s to be an isolate it fails, and that is at the heart of the reason why a large part of the population call it crap. i.e. it doesn’t culturally do what it claims it can.
    Its also interesting to note that the word ‘subjective’ didn’t exist in the English language until the early Nineteenth Century. The idea that ‘the outer’ reality was empirically deductible and ‘the inner’ a separate spontaneous isolate of relativism is a very modern concept. Its been debunked by quantum theory (the subject cannot be isolated from the observer), cognitive science (language and cognition are not separate entities from the world, they merge out of the physical experience of our bodies in the world), postmodern philosophy (objective and subjective binaries are a construct) etc etc …but the contemporary art world still goes along with the garbage that ‘creativity’ is something separate, illogical, internal and personal from the so-called “objective” world “out there.”
    While most other disciplines have moved on from these kind of binary views, the art world is still locked in a view of the world that properly made sense at the BEGINNING of the twentieth century (hence the deja vu feeling that nothing much has changed since i.e. ‘cutting edge’ today resembles calling a urinal a fountain). The art world, along with much of society at the time, enthroned the subjective to a level where the so called ‘outward’ was viewed as either superficial or designated to the other ‘objective realm’ of science. Out went drawing, anatomy, perspective, etc etc.. to be naive was to be subjectively ‘pure.’ Of course this is utter crap. But on a subliminal level these culturally retrograde views are still entrenched and your in for a real battle, with commercial galleries, art schools and the whole ‘Emperors wearing no clothes’ establishment if you push against it. You’ll be in for a fight, as all the art ‘teachers’ know they would be out of a job if they had to really draw, paint and sculpt like genuine craftsman.

  9. Epsilon Rho says:

    I would also like to point out here that there are many different things that one would call bullshit (like Duchamp’s shovel). From the uneducated eye, yes- a shovel from a hardware store that an artist simply signed his name on is total bull shit. The concept behind the shovel, however, is very powerful and thought provoking. Number one, Duchamp himself was calling bullshit on the bourgeois art critics that ran the galleries, etc and decided what art was. He was questioning whether art made the artist or the artist made the art. As in could he, by signing his name on something make that a piece of art. He was also stating that the craftsmanship that was put into making that shovel by the people working in the factory, etc. should also be valued as art. It was a very early move into questioning and pushing the boundaries of the classification of art.

    You are actually very nearly completely wrong in your statement that works before photography could be considered art as well. Back then, you are right, being an artist was a job. You provided a service. You were commissioned to do the work of someone else that usually held very little concept, did not generally make people think or challenge beliefs, etc. It was not until the days of Gustave Courbet that artists were beginning to make careers as our modern definition of artists. It wasn’t until that time that people were buying paintings and works that artists had done, rather than paying artists to do a work. Gustave Courbet would have been considered a “bull shit” artist back then as well, because the idea of art then was that it had to be of beautiful subjects and he chose to paint prostitutes bathing in rivers. It took a while for his pieces to be accepted into the salon (those art critiques that were doing the same thing then as they were doing in the early 1900s through expressionism, pop art, Op art, surrealism… etc). Until then, artists were only gauged by their skills (which is exactly what you are doing now) instead of being gauged by the ideas their works convey. But, one of the greatest things I have learned is that just because a painting is “ugly, simple, not aesthetically appealing at all for that matter,” does not mean that the artist did not have the skills to paint something that was. It means that they made the choice to not paint those things because they wanted to convey something different.

    Mind you, I am the radical in my art department that you will frequently hear say that art is bullshit. There are many different artists and even movements that, yes… They required no skill, no training, and convey no idea other than “this conveys no idea and as such is a new idea and therefore MUST be some kind of new movement” – which is total BULL SHIT. BUT the things that you have spoken of, and the stance you chose to make against said things comes from an obviously uneducated opinion. Just because something took a great deal of skill to accomplish does not make it art. For example: Thomas Kincade makes beautiful works… But he is not an artist. He is an interior decorator. His work inspires no new thought or emotion in the viewer other than “Wow how does he get it to look like it lights up that way?!” or “Now that is a cute cottage.”

    Whereas a trained artist could take a canvas, paint a specific shape in a certain color, that why yes, a 7 year old could have done, skill wise. BUT the knowledge of the human body’s most base, most instinctual, most reflexive reaction to certain shapes and colors can cause the viewer to be manipulated in some way by the piece. That is the difference. As simple in construction/design/skill as a work may seem, one cannot deny the emotions or even physical reactions one experiences when one sees the work which was the whole intent of the artist–to make the viewer feel something, to think something, to cause some change in them.

    That is what has stemmed from all the “bull shit” of the 20th century movements. Our expectations of art today is that art must convey some sort of meaning. It cannot stand on mere craft alone. Being able to throw a baseball 200 MPH does not make you the greatest pitcher to ever live. You have to know the rules and you have to strike the batters out.

    • Autonomous Painter says:

      Without being personal, this is the kind of incoherent non-intellectual, non-argument that one can expect from people who are called ‘art teachers’ in western state run art schools today. No other tertiary profession would throw up such a bunch of ‘thoughts’ higgledypiggledy.

      Courbet categorically did not paint a subject of prostitutes bathing, although his subject may have been criticized as alluding to prostitution. That’s a BIG…. difference.

      And check out this first hand criticism of Courbet by his famous contemporary the painter Eugene Delacroix on that very picture, ‘I was amazed by the strength of relief of his principle picture-but what a picture! what a subject to choose! The vulgarity of the forms would not signify, the vulgarity and futility of the idea is what is so abominable, and even that might pass if the idea (such as it is) had been made clear!’ (Journal of Eugene Delacroix Friday, 15 April 1853).

      The criticism begins with AMAZEMENT at the strength of the picture. He flatly acknowledges this prior to anything. When was the last time you went to a gallery and saw the critic of contemporary art bold over, flabbergasted with heart wrenching awe, BEFORE going, hey wait a minute, there’s some serious problems here? Its not happening.

      What is happening is a bunch of retro wanna be -1960-70s bohemians ‘living’ their middle class, art school, ‘art’ subculture. Its about getting together and scratching each others back, so we can all ‘belong’ in the ‘art’ club. Its the bla bla “freedom” of the artists life.. whatever that means

    • Pick-ass-oh says:

      I’d love to hit you on the head with that shovel.

  10. fullphaser says:

    I like the people taking guesses at my familiarity with Post Modern Art, and more specifically my knowledge of various artistic movements in the 21st century and giving me the broad gambit of uneducated because they find my rather dismissive attitude of everything post photography as a grade A pile of horseshit.

    Please keep the comments coming, it’s great to have something meander into my mailbox about once a month calling me a crass proletariat who knows little more of art then a school yard boy who just recently saw his first copy of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

  11. Tommygun says:

    I think it is important to distinguish between two types of abstraction. Abstraction imposed by the Artist and Abstraction imposed by the viewer.

    Consider the statement: ‘We are finite and infinite beings’. This statement is a logical contradiction and is bullshit. However the viewer might interpret this in a meaningful way but in itself, it meaningless. The construction of such statements requires no skill.
    Consider the statement: ‘We are beings of finite longevity but infinite understanding’. This is an abstract statement. The viewer might see this as infinite emotions or infinite reasoning,. whatever. But this all fits into the scope of the artists statement, and is valid.

    So when applying this to art, abstract paintings which make the viewer decipher seemingly meaningless artworks are indistinguishable from bullshit and should be seen as such. Since they require no skill. While artworks which lead us down a narrow abstract understanding (similar understandings of a common theme) take skill to construct even if they don’t take skill to paint.

    Although the viewer always interprets the painting, the artist should guide the viewer in a meaningful direction. Someone that guides interpretation in a meaningful way requires skill and is an artist. Someone that can recreate a real world scene requires skill and is an artist. Personally, i think that Eliciting emotions alone is not sufficient to call something art because i could bang on a piano with my fists and say to you I illicit the emotion of anger. Very few people would call what I am doing music.

    • Autonomous Painter says:

      Imagine if 90 percent of all writing was like James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ what kind of an affect would that have on the cultural influence of writing? We can debate the pro’s and con’s of such a literary approach, but what are the ramifications for cultural dialogue and communication? Modernism was an historically interesting phenomenon like Joyce’s experimentation with writing. The problem is that unlike Joyce and a handful of others in ‘stream of consciousness’ literature, Modernism’s influence WAY…… overgrew its significance and very quickly its cultural ‘use by date.’ Who experiments with Joyce’s approach to writing now? A handful of people these days. Why? Because IT IS LIMITED.

      I went to one of the few private art schools that teaches a quasi-nineteenth century method of art education. A really competent one is in New York, its called the Grand Central Academy of Art, they have a great blog that’s worth checking out.

      • TheOddStrange says:

        I think that I read a SoC novel before- Orange Eats Creeps, I think.
        Well, I didn’t really read it all the way through, I got real tired of it real fast. It was really kind of stupid.

  12. mike v says:

    The invention of photography is certainly part of the evolution of western art, but it is just a part. Modern art would have emerged regardless of the invention of photography. Modernism was a broad intellectual and cultural movement that goes back to the even before the 18th century. The signposts of Modernism can be debated, as can the way in which various influences affected visual art. But what can’t be debated is that the intellectual and cultural foundations of western society had undergone fundamental reshuffling, and these re-orderings of things emerged in visual art in new ways.

    I’m not sure if the writer here is talking strictly about modern art (late 19th century through 1950-ish) or is talking about contemporary art.. or post-modern art. They are certainly not the same thing. In particular… although modern art became art for arts sake… it was still the belief that the aesthetic qualities of the art objects themselves were still the important thing. It was really the re-emergence of conceptualism and post-modernism that ushered in the current era, where theory is elevated over the art object… and the consideration of the object’s visual properties was less important than understanding it’s conceptual meaning.

    Conceptual and post-modern art often not visual art at all. At most, the art objects are simply illustrations that accompany a theory, and thus their visual properties are subservient to conceptual theories. This is a a great failure for visual art… though it is great for those predisposed to engage in sophistry.

    At any rate… many people say they hate modern art… and I suppose they do. But probably if you put someone in front of a Jackson Pollock (an expressionist, who reveled in texture and surface and tangible paint)…. and also in front a piece of Jenny Holzer word art (she of the conceptual art where a few pithy words are written on a piece of paper)… I think people would prefer the Pollock, if only because he at least did love the visual.

    Sure, he was wild and chaotic and abstract… and compared to a Dutch Master he wasn’t bringing sophisticated techniques to his creations. But at least he dealt with the strictly visual. He let the object speak for itself. Sure, his art ascended in an atmosphere of critical acceptance underwritten by Clem Greenberg… but Pollock himself was fully committed to the trajectory of his work regardless of outside influences. He was a true visual artist, and I think it’s clear when compared to conceptual artists. The same could be said for all of modern art.

    Bottom line, I think the criticism of Modern Art is often misplaced rage for the post-modern art that I mentioned earlier.

    • Autonomous Painter says:

      You get this “historical distinction narrative” simplification at most tertiary art schools and sadly art history departments. i.e. that there is Modernism and then there is post-modern art and a great “cultural difference.” But I have to ask Mike, where is the historical evidence?
      Conceptual art is first evident in what Marcel Duchamp called ‘Readymades’ and in his 1917 urinal that he called ‘Fountain.’ This was in collaboration with the Dada group. I think you have to acknowledge a clear and PREDICTABLE derivation in the ‘conceptual art’ that emerged in the late 1950s and 60s with groups like Fluxus and the likes of Yoko Ono, with this earlier World War One and ‘just-postwar’ movement. The same social parody,’methods’ etc etc. It seems historically problematic therefore to assume any real distinction between Modernism (of which Duchamp and Dada were apart) and post WW2 conceptual ‘art.’

  13. Autonomous Dancer says:

    Very sad that modern, postmodern, pop culture is the kind of nonsense that is being taught at schools and universities. Great artists of the past aren’t studied any more, we accept all mediocre art as real art. I read recently that it was a handful of art dealers in New York that realized that by creating this artificial understanding of art, more “art” would be produced and sold and the more money they would make.

  14. peter shaw says:

    I completely agree with your take on things, and have come to similar conclusions myself.

  15. peter shaw says:

    I completely agree with the article, but none of the overly wordy mumbo jumbo, bull shit art school kids comments .

  16. Idi 'Big Daddy' Amin says:

    The only thing I find more infuriating than modern art is the kind of art school-educated dickhead who tries to justify this talentless, meritless, soulless garbage.

    I actually quit a college art course because the tutor considered Mark Rothko and Yves Klein to be more important than Monet and Van Gogh. It was all I could do not to vomit all over her.

  17. D-Max says:

    Content Edited

  18. Arietts says:

    Pardiss’ art is pretty bad. I have no idea how you found it. You must have had to look pretty hard to pick out that. But it just seems like typical first year art school stuff. Maybe high-school? Hopefully she doesn’t consider it a career and it’s just a ‘phase’. She’s in for a lot of hardship if she seriously thinks she can make money from those pieces. They aren’t terribly exceptional. Just sort of “Blah”

  19. Leo the Lion says:

    Hey your link doesn’t show any of the art? It just has a link to that douche Daniel Tosh…

    I had to do a google search of the name… I think I saw some of the art your talking about.

    I agree that’s it’s pretty bad. Reminds me of my ’emo’ period! God.., I don’t think I can ever listen to a death metal song or see someone wearing all black and mascara without shuddering!

    The blurry portraits are the worst! I imagine those were the earliest though.

    But I find it hard to believe this is an actual artist… sounds like some unfortunate hobby painter whose blog you had the misfortune to stumble upon!

    It was a good laugh… definitely made my day!

  20. Sufficiently Analyzed Magic says:

    You know what I think of as art and find beautiful?

    Science. Not only that, but what we can observe utilising the tools we’ve created through science.
    As Carl Sagan so poetically said it. “We on earth marvel, and rightfully so, at the daily return of our single sun. But from a planet orbiting a star in a distant globular cluster, a still more glorious dawn awaits. Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise. A morning filled with 400 billion suns, the rising of the milky way. An enormous spiral form with collapsing gas clouds condensing planetary systems, luminous super giants, stable middle aged stars, red giants, white dwarfs, planetary nebulas, super novas, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes, and, there is every reason to think, other exotic objects that we have not yet discovered.”

    Science truly is a form of art.

    • Autonomous Painter says:

      I think you might be onto something here. We are often taught that science and religion were exclusively antagonistic to one another in early-modern culture. Yet many in the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church led the world in astronomy. The arts also kept up with scientific changes to culture at a faster pace than the official church line did.
      Kepler’s discovery of the elliptical movement of the planets, as far as I can see, was the inspiration of baroque architects like Borromini to design their church domes and buildings by an elliptical plan rather than a circular one. Seeing as the function of the dome was to be as a visual simile for the heavens, aesthetics was employed to mirror this cultural shift.
      I’m guessing that your dissatisfaction with modern ‘art’ stems from the fact that whereas art at this time was; as it had always been, about the microcosm of life mirroring the macrocosm, it has now become rather “oxymoronically” ‘art about art’ gazing up an imagined back end asking ‘what is art?’ verse art pro-actively asking the question, ‘what is culture?’

  21. TraditionalRealism says:

    Thank you lord! Someone who understands!

  22. Yosh says:

    Yes some random lines drawn on a canvas is just that: bullshit. Finally, someone calling a spade a spade. Art these days isn’t so much about art as it is about social status and class. The last art showing I went to consisted of a large white canvas with a black dot in the middle of it. And below it: some candles in sand filled vases…all to be sold for $20k. What a total joke. But when you’re rich enough and you have a wide enough social circle who is equally as rich then its no longer really about the work anymore.

  23. Imgd22 says:

    I think you should get informed. Read a book about modernism or something. And then write a blog on bullshit art. Back when the impressionists decided that they wanted to depict things differently there where a bunch of other artists still doing the same “real art” you talk about for salons. Those artists sold their paintings, lived a good life and made money out of it. What a coincidence they didnt transcend history like Monet or VanGogh. They discovered a new way to do art. Slowly it kept transforming into the many other movements you still call bullshit. However, you are just like one of the artists that called impressionists sketch artists. You dont understand it. This process has happened since the begining of time. Someone comes up w a better idea someone calls it bulshit. Didnt you know Michelangelo did the same thing? He decided that he could sketch sculptures full of emotions he decided space is not vertical he invented many other things. Yet i dont see you calling his art bullshit. Compare a Ghirlandaio painting to a scene of the Sistine Chappel. Or the Monalisa. And then think about the fact that many people hated their art just because it was different to thethings they were used to seeing. Youre doing the same ignorant thing here. If you understood how much things go into contemporary art you would never have the courage to make such an ignorant statement. Your artistic family doesnt mean you get to know art w confidence and make claims about subjects you dont know or understand

    • TheOddStrange says:

      Actually, most modern art (READ: almost every piece of it) is nothing more than attention whoring and- let’s see- ‘Those artists sold their paintings, lived a good life and made money out of it. What a coincidence they didnt transcend history like Monet or VanGogh.’ Aren’t these two-bit fakers doing the exact same thing, except with less learning and skill put into it? I don’t see any of them transcending anything except the gross national level of stupid pomposity.

  24. Karima says:

    Wait, really? About the only thing I think we would agree on is that a red circle on a white campus is not, in fact, art. While it might be true that a good number of the works from the “modern art” movement might not stand the test of time, you conveniently ignore the fact that the modern art movement has birthed such artists as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Picasso, etc.

    Modern and contemporary art emphasizes ideas more than mediums and philosophy over technique. Artists no longer have to be confined to expressing themselves in ways that are only compatible with a canvas or a piece of marble; the possibilities become endless. Yes, oil paintings and marble sculptures required a precise talent and sense of realism that is almost hard to believe. BUT, the idea of modern art is essentially emancipating art as a whole and enabling it to flourish. It is unleashing an intellectual revolution in art.

    Aesthetics are great.
    Having to think is great, too.

  25. Colin says:

    Finally, someone who has the courage and conviction to call a spade a spade … Thank you for your clarity and presence of mind !.

    Modern art depends on the greater fool theory for it to survive. A theory that states it is possible to make money by buying art, whether overvalued or not, and later selling it at a profit because there will always be someone (a bigger or greater fool) who is willing to pay the higher price.

    Similar to the Keynesian Beauty Contest – where a number of people were asked to choose from a set of six photographs of women that were the “most beautiful.” Those who picked the most popular face would be eligible for a prize.

    The simplest strategy would be to choose the face that looked the most beautiful to the contestant. A more sophisticated contest contestant would think about what the majority perception of beauty was in order to maximize the chances of winning a prize. This process would be extended to the next order and so on, so that other entrants would each have their own opinion of what public perceptions were, at each level attempting to predict the eventual outcome of the process based on the reasoning of others.

    “It is not a case of choosing those [faces] that, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those that average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.” (Keynes, General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, 1936).

  26. Colin says:

    If what has happened to modern art happened to music then the sounds produced by slaming your hands on the piano would be considered a master piece.

  27. Scott says:

    Alex F., above, purportedly claims that “Modern/Contemporary art doesn’t mimic life, it relies on abstraction instead.” He goes on to say that “Its far more difficult to create an entirely new visual language than to recreate exactly what you see in front of you.”

    This is obvious nonsense for several reasons. 1) This type of art does not rely on abstraction. Abstraction means that one thing represents, in abbreviated form, another. The numeral “4” and the word “four” are abstractions that we use to represent a quantity, such as the amount of asterisks that follow this colon: * * * *. This is an abstraction, because “4” and “four” represent that particular quantity of things, because we, as a community (at least the English speaking community) have uniformly agreed to that.

    Look at a Jackson Pollock splatter painting. It does not represent something else, or anything else. It has no meaning, and is meant to have no meaning. It does not stand for or represent anything else. Abstraction is simply the wrong word for whatever this nonsense is.

    Furthermore, the idea of a “new language” is also nonsense. There is no “language” at all involved in this so-called abstract (better described as non-representational) art.

    My friend can tell me that, say, Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” is the greatest work of fiction ever written. Since I do not speak French, I can stare at a copy of that book, in French, as long as I want, and still cannot possibly ascertain whether I agree with my friend’s judgment or not.

    But…there are at least two or three alternatives. I can study French, and learn that language (if so inclined) and can then read the book in its original language. Or, I can get a French-English dictionary and create a makeshift translation of my own. Or, if I do not have the time or inclination, I can read this book in translation, and have a pretty good (but imperfect) approximation of what the original is like, and then judge accordingly.

    In any of these case, I can understand that there is a correspondence between French words and English words. I can understand that the word “chien” (in French) is meant to refer to the animal that I know of, in English, as a “Dog”. It WILL NOT be the case that “chien” sometimes means “dog” and sometimes means “cake” and sometimes means “binoculars”. It is not the case that this word means different things to different people, or that it means whatever you want it to mean. It is the nature of language that words are meant to allow for a degree of imperfect, but reasonably precise communication. If I ask my breakfast-mate to pass the cereal, I can reasonably expect him to pass me the cereal and not a pneumatic tire pump.

    There is nothing about this so called “abstract art” that has any of the qualities of a “language”. There is no key I can look to to provide a consistent translation of what this squiggle, or that splatter means.

    If you want to say you like abstract art, then so be it, but don’t suggest that it has it’s own language. It just doesn’t.

    • Makes me think of how there’s so much talk about social dislocation in modern society ie lack of community, etc And yet no one seems to put two and two together: if ‘art’ can mean whatever you want it to mean and it has no intrinsic meaning, then is it any wonder that our modern culture ends up mirroring our aesthetic one? ie A world in which everyone has their own isolated and ‘personal’ identity and collective identity is meaningless and expendable. Is it any wonder that the corporate world can so easily screw us over? To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, ‘its not art that imitates life, but rather life imitating art.’ Does are subjectively ‘isolated art’ result in an isolated society/culture?

  28. One reason Modern painting took over the world so thoroughly–much more thoroughly than, say, the modern novel or modern serious music–is because painting requires so little investment from the viewer. You can have a merry old time at MOMA wandering around chatting with friends, occasionally glancing at what’s on the walls (or floors), and end up saying you loved the art. On the other hand if you’re asked to slog through an incoherent experimental novel, or sit through a dissonant piece of Modern music you’ll run the other direction, even though the nature of the art being presented isn’t really any different–in fact the skill level of the author or composer will probably be much higher than that of the visual artist. Also–separate point–is it possible that all Modern Art really is is revenge of the untalented. So many children spent their childhoods gazing bitterly at the couple of kids in the classroom who were naturally skillful at drawing. With Modern Art that kind of skill not only isn’t required, but is generally regarded as, at best, a retrograde branch of illustration. As long as Matisse keeps being touted as civilization’s premiere artist, the I-can’t-draw-a-straight-line crowd can keep feeling good about themselves.

    • ryandemaree says:

      Art isnt about drawing/ painting rich people, duck ponds, fruit bowls, and religious scenery in a realistic fashion strictly. Open your mind to new concepts and new aesthetics. Visual art is about the VISUALS when you break it down and “is this picture pleasing to the eye based on composition, color, texture, light etc.” whether or not the picture is representational or not is totally irrelevant/ subjective in accordance to the works merit. Jackson Pollock was a brilliant painter for different reasons than Caravaggio was a brilliant painter, people that dont see that are being closed minded, but as I said it IS subjective and everyone has their own opinion on what they deem as “good art” and what they deem as “bad art” based on the works aesthetics and concept and how they work together. I myself enjoy alot of what Modern art has to offer and very much prefer it to classic art due to the sheer endless possibilities that Modern art offers. Ill take Dali and Picasso over Michelangelo and Da Vinci ANYDAY because realistic pictures of pious rich people and religious people just arent that enlightening, whereas a bizarre and fluid dreamscape by Dali or a rigid and multi-dimensional beingis very visually pleasing AND mentally stimulating. Of course Modern art has its pretentious kitsche art, like Warhol, Koons, Emin and blank canvas displays but that doesnt speak for all of Modern art. If you were to try to replicate a top notch Pollock painting from his prime years you would find yourself in a bind and realize that there is color, texture, light, and compositional theory to it and you would find that there is a vast difference between “throwing paint at a canvas” and “Doing a drip painting”

      Take this painting as an instant example – http://cfile24.uf.tistory.com/image/1412D8164A900D7B3CF216

      There is very specific line, color, composition and texture elements to it that go beyond “throwing paint at a canvas and not knowing how to draw” The painting shows “intention” and “theory” whether or not it is representational and whether you like it or not are completely irrelevant/ subjective.

      Even within classic painters, such as Michelangelo for example, there is abstraction and style present

      Take this painting for example – http://media.smithsonianmag.com/images/The-Creation-of-Adam-Michelangelo-631.jpg

      ^^^ This is NOT photo-realism, so why revere it? What seperates this from a Picasso or a Monet? they are all 3 using loose representationalism – stylized and abstracted to a degree- So what makes Michelangelo any better? What is good visual art? photo realistic paintings of dinner tables and evening strolls in the park? Why does everything need to be predictable and familiar? There are no huge differences between someone like Monet and Michelangelo, they both use representationalism loosely and stylize their work, Michelangelo simply uses more accepted themes for his time [religion] and does so in a mre realistic manner.

      Are we splitting hairs here? It seems it all comes down to opinion, as I stated above.

      http://www.actingoutpolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/PicasMassacre.jpeg – If you cannot see the aesthetic and conceptual value of this painting then I feel bad for you, but like I said its all subjective in the end.

      I myself am a visual artist / painter. I consider myself an Abstract-Surrealist painter who uses a full range of aesthetics and concepts to convey w/e I would like regardless whether or not it is recognizeable visually or idealistically.

      For anyone interested in viewing my work, here are a few links

      http://1-ryan-demaree.artistwebsites.com/ – My main website

      http://fineartamerica.com/featured/solar-broadcast-transition-ryan-demaree.html
      http://fineartamerica.com/featured/2013-ryan-demaree.html
      http://fineartamerica.com/featured/2012-confronting-inevitability-ryan-demaree.html

      ^^^3 paintings of mine

      “Man is an ape, and the world is a set”

      -Ryan Demaree

  29. roflmaozedong says:

    Found this one not too long ago, and it perfectly echoed my sentiments upon finishing a Picasso temporary exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Went through the whole thing, and came out feeling quite meh. Then I saw a host of wild west/cowboy paintings by some dude called Frederic Remington, and found it much more enthralling. That in turn led me to some Greco-Roman structures, which in turn led to the Renaissance wing, and I can’t help but think:

    Every one of those 2000BC-1800s paintings will easily maintain its value hundreds if not thousands of years from now, all the way until age literally renders the canvas or the marble to dust, whereas Picasso would be lucky if a handful of his abstract sketches survive the test of time. There’s just a sense of classic beauty that that bronze hoplite helm with the engraved ears, or the marble Roman sarcophagus with reliefs of legionares fighting Amazons, or the painting of Michael the Archangle triumphantly fucking up Satan with a sword, or the painted action shot of a Plains Indian scouting party being surprised by the report of a long-range buffalo gun, that these supposedly “African tribal mask inspired geometric patterns” and sketches of distorted monster women simply can’t emulate.

  30. Catarina says:

    Most people don’t get what art is, it takes not only a sensitive, curious and open mind but also several years of studying.
    Read and watch “Shock of the New” by Robert Hughes, a true art critic, one of the best from the XXth century.
    I hope someday you’ll get it.
    If you despise Picasso like that, it means that it will certainly take time for you to get, if ever.

  31. nitross says:

    We had a chance to step up the XIX stagnation. It was called Futurism. But everybody hated it because it made them feel anxious, threatened, stupid, hiveminded, old fashioned… all that they were are are. That’s why everything that “artistic”, “scientific”, “politically correct”, “good”, etc, is a jewish creation. Futurism was to be the white men way to create and express. It all failed into stupid cubism and Frankfurt School, postmodernism, Freud and Marx. Now a person fucking an animal is art. A dead animal is art.

    We had a chance, it was called Futurism. But few were as brave.
    Im really looking forward your answer about this, I think you are on the right track.
    Please respond.

  32. Bob says:

    I always thought that the point of art was to make beautiful things that everyone can enjoy… and not having to get a fucking degree in arts to be able to understand a circle within a fucking square.

  33. Azie says:

    Can’t believe I actually took the time to read all comments! lol Slow Day. I have to agree with the general premise of this post, that is, modern art seems really stagnant.

    Also why was that one comment taken down? I noticed that person referred to, Pardiss Amerian (Sp?) has a few blogs which are revolting! I guess she made some anti-Semitic remark to respond?

    Her blog site, http://pardiss-amn.weebly.com/, happens to be revolting. I apologize for linking to it. But it makes me sad to be Iranian, and I don’t want my nation or ethnicity to be linked at all to these views. Persians are mostly good despite a few rotten-apples! Well at the very least we are just like any other people, some are good and some are bad 😛

  34. Troy Young says:

    The fatal flaw in the argument that the invention of photography forced artists to create unreal things is that the purpose of true ART was probably never to depict visual reality, but to show that which cannot be seen.
    Do you consider music to be art? The only form music can take is abstract. Why is it acceptable to have abstract audio compositions, but not visual ones?

  35. saturnjanet says:

    I would definitely agree, you summed art smartly in a small essay. If people look back on us in 100 or 200 years, as you say they will admire our films, game art, computer generated art …(etc) as part of a fine arts movement, what would they call it I wonder? Another thing I thought was what would Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci think of our current contemporary art? Surely a good percentage of our contemporary art is beautiful and meaningful, but the other percentage makes the millions leaving most artists in the quiet dust of their art studios.

  36. jofox2108 says:

    I think what you say really makes a lot of sense to me. Along with CGI, animation, movies and game design, I would add comic book art which can be beautiful and incredibly imaginative. In fact a lot of modern sci fi films come from great comic stories. Thanks for a really interesting post!

  37. Gloria says:

    I’m an abstract artist – I make something that looks nice, give it an ‘intellectual name’, and people buy it. I eat. Personally my tastes run to Turner, Waterhouse, Pissaro, Sargent – I like a lot of still life too. I do abstract because I can produce it more quickly. Abstract still takes effort, knowledge, and a smidge of feeling, but in my personal opinion – it’s not art.

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