Sunday, 20 June 2010

Art or not?

In my last post I may have given the impression that I don't appreciate modern art. I'd just like to clarify that I have respect for all forms of art - as long as it actually involves some form of art!

I watched a very interesting program on TV today about modern art, and I have to say that I really liked most of it. But there are some forms of "art" that I really struggle with.

One such piece consisted of a couple of dummies demonstrating waterboarding - a form of torture I hadn't heard of until seeing this piece of "art". Is this art? I have to ask myself honestly; am I reluctant to admit this is art just because I don't like it? Obviously someone had to sculpt the dummies. Still, it's something I would expect to see in a museum rather than an art show.

There are lots of pieces of art that I don't like, but I can't deny that it is art. I hate the spider sculptures of Louise Bourgeois, simply because I have a phobia of spiders, but it is still art.

But some pieces of art really do push the limits. Poo in a tin? Not art. Obscenities, scribbled on a toilet wall? Not art. A messy bed with dirty knickers? Not art. Half a cow? Interesting, but not art.

On the other hand... knitted or sculpted poo - art. Spray painted stencil drawings - art. A painting of a messy bed with dirty knickers - art. A sculpted replica of half a cow - art. A piece of rump steak - dinner. (Oops, how did that get in here?)

Well, that's just my view anyway. Surely art has to involve some sort of artistic action on the part of the artist? What do you think?


Kathy L said...

Oh a difficult concept to discuss. I have always used the definiton that art is something one creates. I may hate it, not understan it, shake my head at it but ithe object is a form of artists selfexpression. Sigh....

cynthia said...

Some contemporary art is very challenging for me - some of Damien Hirst's work (right off the top of my head) and remember the brouhaha over Piss Christ?

Inevitably, I make a judgmental statement that I later regret since I didn't consider all the angles and reacted from a purely emotional state. The power of some of this work is the ability to provoke discussion & dialog, etc.

Anyway, I didn't read your post as being anti-contemporary art at all....

Undaunted said...

I agree Kathy, it is a very difficult concept to discuss. I doubt my own "guidelines" at times. I agree that art is a form of self expression, but does that mean that every form of self expression is art? I do think artists at times are lazy and seem to demand that we see art where it just doesn't exist.

I hadn't heard of the P*ss Christ before Cynthia. Thank you for the link. It seems some artists go all out to shock. I agree that the power of some work is it's ability to provoke discussion (or just provoke) but is that enough?

I'm glad you didn't find my post anti-contemporary Cynthia. But I was a bit annoyed that my pieces were rejected, knowing that some of the other entries required vitually no skill at all!

mona said...

Oh fascinating question which I am not up to even taking a swing at this late in the night.

Though I agree with the concept of shocking art forces the viewer to think, I tend to believe it's the artist looking for a few minutes of publicity out of it.

Been watching that art reality competition show on Bravo and next weeks challenge is shock value art where the aforementioned Christ piece is shown as an example. Hmmm.

Undaunted said...

I agree with you Mona, about looking for publicity. But it forces the viewer to think about what exactly?? Half the time the piece doesn't have a truly powerful message does it?

I have contemplated making sculptures of starving children and conjoined twins sometime in the future (when I have the skill, which may be years from now, and I may change my mind by then), which may be disturbing to some, but my desire isn't to shock others, but to express something that disturbs me. At least it will be hand sculpted!

Angela Finney said...

I think you are brave to bring up this topic.

There is alot of art that I do not emotionally like.

It seems that some people who may have done something innovative at one time and thus gained fame only need to wave there hand over something for it to be considered
"art" from then on. That is my negative comment.

I was in the Hirshhorn Mueseum of International Modern and Contemporary Art once and saw a sheet of plywood with dirt and some paint splatters on it hanging on the wall, I was having reactions similar to yours regarding the talent that went into that. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was all trompe d'eol. I was both delighted and chagrined. (I need to look this painting up -- will do so and maybe post it too, on my blog latter).

I think when you started your blog and were presenting two dimensional pieces you were marvelously free in expressing yourself in a a contemporary way.

Undaunted said...

Thank you Angela :)

I have no objection to abstract or expressive art. I suppose it's this conceptual stuff I don't like. The piece I thought would win this open art competition was a little like that, which is what got me so annoyed. But apparently that piece hasn't won afterall, although it has been accepted for the exhibition.

I'd be interested to see the piece you describe!