Yesterday, I went on a DC adventure with friends. And eventually we ended up at the National Gallery of Art. We walked aimlessly around, looking at portraits and paintings. We even checked out the new “Black List” exhibit, which showcases stunningly simplistic photographs of influential African…
Hi, I’m an art major, so it’s only fitting that I defend my people and my craft.
I know how you feel. Everyone feels that way. I also used to feel the same. But like everything else in this world, you can’t appreciate something if you don’t take the time to learn about its history and evolution. There is a reason why things that five-year-olds can make are worth millions, and if you take the time to learn about it you’ll understand as well. I’m not saying you will particularly agree—I don’t particularly agree with everything—but you’ll at least give it the respect it deserves.
Visual art is like all other forms of art. Automatically shutting off contemporary visual art and saying it’s not as good as the “more realistic stuff” is like shutting off rap and saying it’s trash compared to classical music. Or saying hip-hop dancing is trash compared to the fox trot or the waltz. All forms of art derive from a movement, from people that felt underrepresented and wished to speak out and make a difference. Contemporary art is the same.
In the 1400s/1500s art was almost purely made for religious purposes, and since majority of people weren’t literate, art was the only way to teach people about religion. That’s why art from the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance periods were all very realistic, glorifying, and larger than life—they were trying to inspire people to convert. But as time went on, people became more literate, independent from religion, and more aware of other issues in the world.
With a more literate world came more ways to express and share ideas. Art was no longer needed to teach and inspire. So contemporary artists started to re-conceptualize art’s role in the world. They started thinking about mediums and materials used, the emotions evoked from looking at a piece of art, the actual process of art-making. And they pushed these ideas to their limit. Artists are no longer confined to the rules of the Church; they have the freedom to use any medium, material, figures, shapes, colors, anything they want to express whatever they want. And trust me, everything has a purpose.
Picasso, an art prodigy, once said, “It took me my whole life to learn to draw like a kindergartner.”
I can keep going forever but I’m going to stop cause this is already too long. I hope you read through what I write and at least give modern art a chance. There’s a lot that can be learned from it. I promise it’s not worthless. Like you say—to each their own.
Just thought I would throw in my two cents to this.
Being a designer with a previous background in the fine arts (and more specifically realism), I think I can provide a unique perspective on the idea that modern art is something a five-year-old can do.
I used to draw in graphite for hours at a time, for days at a time, on one drawing – just to get it as realistic as possible. Now, I spend my time arranging shape, color, and type (really basic things) to create something that can get a reaction out of people, provide a function or express a certain meaning. The number of hours it takes to complete a work of graphic design pales in comparison to realism drawn with a pencil, but this doesn’t make one or the other a better practice. There are incredible works of graphic design out there, just as there are incredible works of realism. More time spent does not mean better.
Of course, there are pieces of modern art out there that are extremely hard to defend and almost impossible to understand (i.e. a white canvas… painted in white), that even I struggle to find any value in. But someone else out there could find it breathtakingly beautiful or thought provoking, and that in itself makes it a successful work of art.