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Monday, November 14, 2011

Art Or Not Art? That Is The Question.

Over at Brooke's site last week, Alligator left the following comment about modern art (if one can indeed call some of the works on display any kind of art at all):

...I was in the Baltimore Museum of Art a few years back. In the middle of an exhibition floor was a wooden crate, a bucket and several dirty rags strewn about and a stack of old newspapers. I told my wife they must be doing some work. I got too close to it and a guard asked me to step away form the exhibit. Sure enough on the other side was a label. I mean, this was stuff you find in a dumpster, and it was just sitting on the bare floor. Yet, people in high dollar outfits would walk by and oooh and ahhh over this!...

In his comment, Alligator also provided this link. Excerpt:
A determined German cleaner destroyed a piece of art valued at £690,000 by cleaning away what she thought was an unsightly stain from the artwork.

The cleaner got to work on an installation by the late and famed artist Martin Kippenberger at a museum in Dortmund.

Entitled “When It Starts Dripping From The Ceilings” the piece comprised a tower of wooden slats with a plastic bowl at the bottom painted brown to give the impression of discolouration caused by water. The cleaner took the paint to be an actual stain and scrubbed the bowl till it looked new....
Your thoughts on what constitutes art?


  1. Art should be a production of talent. If any idiot can do it, it isn't special. It isn't art.

    Could you even imagine what Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Rembrant, DaVinci, ect would say when presented with such displays?

    My youngest child would know to throw away such garbage that pass for exhibits. It's isn't a dissertation on decay, ect. IT IS JUNK.

    Kudos to that janitor. ;)

  2. It's not any different than the way liberals change the meaning of words. they do the same thing with "art".

  3. AOW,

    This a subject close to my heart. I was a college trained "modern" artist, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Major -- Painting, Minors in Graphics and Ceramic Tech.)

    I graduated college, went into business and then as I reflected on my "education" I realized that all the "modern artists" whom I had formerly admired were extreme liberals or Socialists.

    Brooke and Conservativesonfire are exactly right. Junk is junk! However, to change the meaning of words is the prime Marxist technique of Dialectical Materialism. It was a fact when I graduated College in 1951 and it is still rampant in the Liberal political/social/religious Establishment today.

    Thankfully I woke up and abandoned my penchant for "modern art" and all the sick Leftist philosophy that accompanied it.

    Now as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I look back and wonder how I could ever have been so stupidly deceived.

    AOW, thanks for the article. Memories. 8-)

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  4. Jack,
    Thanks for stopping by and giving us your excellent input.

    I like traditional art -- mostly. Oh, sure, some modern pieces reach me, but not the really abstract ones.

    I hesitate to admit that I do like a lot of Dali's work and some of Picasso's work as well.

    And I do realize that modern art as a complete diet is a revolution of sorts, a revolution that turns upside down mainstream values.

  5. Kippenburger, too bad he died so young. That's what the booze will do to you.

    But he had a magnificent sense of humor and worked an important idea. What ideas are left and what purpose can art serve.

    The inspiration ain't coming from the sky as he slyly points out in the piece that was cleaned.

  6. I realized that all the "modern artists" whom I had formerly admired were extreme liberals or Socialists.


    Why did you stop admiring them?

  7. Ducky,

    After graduation and in business for myself, I realized that their Socialist, Marxist philosophy was totally at odds with a Conservative business philosophy. And after I trusted Christ as my Savior, I was even more convinced that Socialism/Marxism is contrary to God's Word, therefore it and True Christianity cannot coexist.

    AOW, also two of my favorite artists were Picasso (after whom I patterned many of my paintings) and Dali whom I admired for his sense of humor and draftsmanship (which I never developed). These were two of the most radical Communists in the bunch. Their Godless philosophy was contrary to everything I stood for.

    I have a page on my personal web site which I put up for my kids and g'kids. It contains two photographs of forgettable abstract paintings which were rescued from the garbage by my Mom and grandkids plus one impressionist painting of one of my best College friends, Wm. A. (Bill - Willie) Powell who later became Corporate COO of AMSouth Banks in Birmingham.


    Please excuse the wedding pics of my sweet departed first wife Fern. I put her pic there so my kids and g'kids could see what it was like back when we were married in 1953.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  8. I am not all familiar with art or artists, except for those that known by all, but I must admit my favorites are Monet and Degas, two totally different styles, but profound and beautiful.

    Throwing garbage or paint on a canvas should not be construed as art.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Is this the same cleaning lady that scrubbed one of Joeseph Beuy's works back in the 80's?

  11. Throwing garbage or paint on a canvas should not be construed as art.

    But you admitted you aren't familiar with contemporary art. Seems like a rush to judgement.

    What I find interesting is that those who profess to dislike modern work can't just walk away from it, they have to try to discredit it.

    An artist like Kippenberger is almost threatening. He wins.

  12. Dali was hated by the communists, who accused him of being a fascist in love with money (avida dollars).

  13. It figures that the 2 dimension mind of a wingut would not have the intellectual capacity to understand contemporary art and furthermore claim is it anti this and anti that.

    Don't understand something: Demonize it, the modus operandi of the loony right.

    Like what you like but for that which you don't understand, you don't get to call it non art. You're not qualified.

  14. I wasn't going to point that out Farmer but since you brought it up --- he was an ardent capitalist and Fascist. It will out.

    His "Soft Construction with Boiled beans" has him masturbating over the idea of the Spanish Civil War, the new Goya indeed.

    On the other hand his later work was often a compelling union of science and theology, his Crucifixion and Last Supper.

    Was that enough to counter his fascination, even support, for Hitler?

    It's never really clear cut.

  15. expreacherman, Dali was thrown out of the Surrealist group due to his support of Franco.

    He openly satirized Lenin in several works, an honor he denied Hitler.

    Sorry, you tipped your hand.

  16. You folks construct your own "reality" far afield from truth. Must be reading Liberal Blogs.

    Yes, Dali was a Communist and was thrown out of the Surrealist group because of disagreements. That is not the only history that has been revised.

    Fascist/Communist both totalitarian Socialist, Far Left regimes. Dali was an equal opportunity criticizer.

    I stand on my own experience as a former admirer of some leftist painters, whether Commies or Fascists -- no difference.

    You may have your opinions from blogs and I have my life experiences. You keep yours and I'll never forget mine. I was alive and painting during Picasso and Dali's most popular heyday.

    Furthermore and most important, I suggest you trust Jesus Christ as your own Savior.. Your Eternity is at risk.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  17. We had our 3rd annual Art Prize in Grand Rapids his year. One of the works was concentric rings shown on the ceiling from a plastic glass on an overhead projector.

    We had a lot of great works there, this wasn't one of them

  18. Ducky, yeah, I am judging. Since when is garbage considered art?

    I have four very talented friends who are gifted artists their work is phenomenal. And it is almost offensive to lump their beautiful art with someone who threw a bunch of trash and a mop on the floor and call it art.

    My friends spend hours and days working on a canvas, that, in my opinion, is the form of a true artist.

    Call that other rubbish junk impressionism and maybe then I will accept it in that category.

  19. expreacherman, I have a degree in Fine Arts.

    Dali split with the Surrealists and Bunuel because of his conservatism.

    He was NEVER associated with Communism. Picasso was briefly but he became much more interested in misogyny and trying to compete with Matisse. He doesn't have much political content from cubism on.

  20. Ducky,

    We disagree.. I'm right -- you are wrong!!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  21. Reminds me of Martin Mull's story about his days as an art student. They put their work in the Men's Room & hung a sign on the door that said, "I'll Be Art In A Minute."

  22. A great topic!
    My art history teacher once suggested that art is everything that's exhibited. In other words, if the artist is clever enough (or the curator is gullible) to insist that toilet is a work of art, then it is. I think this janitor proves my teacher wrong. If a reasonable person doesn't think that it's art, then it's not.
    I have to add that I'm a fan of modern art -- when it's moving and masterful.

  23. Actually, what I know about art can barely fill a thimble.

    I never studied art or even much art appreciation -- although I love to go to exhibits at the National Gallery of Art.

    Probably my lack of appreciation for art stems from two causes: (1) visual perception and visual acuity issues and (2) my pursuit of music. My auditory memory is nearly infallible, my visual memory quirky.

  24. Liberal Dude,
    All you are qualified for is the status of useless troll.

    This is my site, and I'll be anti anything I please.

  25. Could THIS be Liberal Dude? After all, he is an Occupier -- according to his avatar.

  26. I think the piece of art in Germany got what it deserved.

    For a good laugh on this subject, see the Simpson's episode about Homer accidentally becoming an artist of "found art."

  27. @AOW and (2) my pursuit of music


    My two best friends and I were talking about this the other day.
    We have distinctly favored modes. One is quite musical, I am extremely visual and the other favors literature.
    I wonder if it isn't natural to have a dominant mode.

  28. I see Ducky gets his information from Wikipedia..:-)

    AOW, I used to be a great admirer of contemporary art and still admire some for its color and design...I like Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns...many of them.
    But, as I've matured, I've seen a nihilism which turns me off.
    The "art" you described is not "art" no matter how hard the 'elite' want us to believe it is.
    It's Emperor's New Clothes with fancy titles on it and big price tags.

    I don't see art as liberal v conservative...
    Enjoy it all, or whatever you like, everyone; it's in the eye of the beholder. One might love one Picasso and hate another....so what?

  29. Wow. I had no idea I would prompt such a discussion.

    Generally speaking, I am a realist in my art. My wife, who is an art teacher is far more into modern art both two and three dimensional. She sees things in contemporary forms that I don't so much. However, I don't mind Picasso or Dali a bit or even Munch. I understand the sytle and the messages. Gee imagine that liberaldude - a 'right winger' that gets and appreciates some modern art!

    We were reflecting on our trip to the Baltimore museum as a result of the German article and she recalled the "junk" in the floor.
    As in tune as she is with the modern art scene - she readily accedes that some of it is just ridiculous to call art.

    To each their own, bud the sad fact is that there are some people who call trash (genuine pulled from the dumpster trash) art and there is a segment of society that will gobble up it. Okay for you, just don't try to convince me it is a "great" work of art.

    In some of these art circles, its not about talent, its about your connections and marketing skills.

    Ducky, just curious BFA, MA or PhD in fine arts? Was there a specific school or period you focused in?

  30. Bfa - majored in film with a minor concentration in Medieval art.

  31. "Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... now you tell me what you know." ~ Groucho Marx

  32. z, why do you consider those artists nihilists?

    That last real nihilists we had were the dadaists and the artists you mention certainly aren't nihilist.

    I love Renaissance art and contemporary artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Mangold have distilled that mystical idea down to its base.

    The MFA has a large group of Kelly's wood sculptures on display. I find them stunning. others may feel that their four year old could do it.
    Well I don't think someone's four year old could put in so much effort to removal the personal, find the natural union of forms and produce something that can demonstrate the beauty, symmetry and glory in nature.

    Also heavily influenced by the structure of early Christian altar pieces. So you call it nihilism and I put on a couple of cantatas and just meditate for a half hour.

    I don't doubt your reaction but I'm curious why you would reject mine when it seems a good deal more life affirming.

    By the way, anyone with a few basic art survey courses knows Dali was conservative.

  33. I was an art major in college, until I realized I didn't have half the talent my classmates possessed.

    I feel pretty much the same way about most modern, abstract, or whatever the nouveau phrase is, that I do about Rap "music". It doesn't take any talent to do either.

    I suppose the real question would be, if it doesn't take any talent to create it, is it still to be considered "art"?

  34. When I was in College, the university art museum brought in an exhibit of photo-realism art. It is distinguished by the fact one cannot ascertain without close detailed scrutiny whether the painting is a painting or a photograph. The exhibit featured, among other astonishing, amazing works of art, a black and white painting of a freckle-face boy that was about 10 feet by 8 feet and still one could not tell if it was a painting or a black and white photograph without standing less than a foot away.

    It also featured sculptures. One was of a man seated backwards on a chair and posed as if he was looking intently at one of the paintings on the wall. Several people stepped out of his line of vision, so to speak, and excused themselves before realizing he wasn't real.

    Another was of a nude woman reposed on a bed and covered partly with a sheet. She looked alive. It had so much detail, I could even see blue veins under her skin. Amazing art.

    I once wrote a blogpost on the arts, describing what I like and don't like. In it, I included some examples of photo-realism art. If anyone is interested, here is the URL: http://leftfieldperspectives.blogspot.com/2005/08/arts.html

  35. You probably remember the pregnant "performance artist" who made arrangements to deliver her baby in public as a form of 'art'.

    I've seen some art that looked like junk I wouldn't touch. I suppose anything goes these days.

    Also using human bodily fluids and excrement has been a big hit, (ugh). Which makes me thing there will be a lot of 'art' come out of the "occupy" camps.

    Right Truth

  36. Yes, AOW. This is your site. You can be "anti anything you want." But with regard to art, you haven't the percipience to be the judge.

  37. Liberal Dude,
    I may not have "percipience." But I do know what I like and what I don't. With regard to art, if it doesn't speak to me, I don't have time for it.

    FYI....I don't care for most atonal music either.

    Notice that I said "most."

    I am a left-brained person. I like structure and organization. Creativity matters, sure. But in my view, real creativity includes some kind of structure for me to relate to.

  38. He openly satirized Lenin in several works, an honor he denied Hitler.

    How soon they forget.... 1939.

  39. I wonder how much of our tax dollars went to subsidize the trash passing for "art" in the post above.

    It's past time to end ALL government grants for art PERIOD!

  40. Mike,
    I regularly see stupid stuff called "art" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Yes, that institution is funded by our tax dollars.

  41. I would not all that satire, Farmer.

    He acknowledges the imminent war.
    He portrays himself as more aware than the tiny people on the beach but I see kn satire.

  42. Well yo can also go to the National Gallery and see the finest Vermeer's in America,
    Martini's "Angel of the Annunciation",
    Constable's "Salisbury Cathedral from the Lower Marsh",
    Raphael's "Alba Madonna",Gilbert Stuart's portrait of John Adams,
    Gainsborough's "Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan"
    and yes Jackson Pollock's "No.1 Lavender Mist".

    But because one of the world's great museums is taxpayer supported it has to display only those works that conform to your limited taste. Do you really think that's a defensible position?

  43. Duck,
    I know that the NGA has those pieces and many other similar pieces.

    And I can endure some abstract art -- more than you'd likely think of me. My taste is not as limited as you seem to think. In fact I happen to like No.1 Lavender Mist. A former piano student of mine had a reproduction of that work hanging above her upright piano. The print worked for the room, which was decorated in a very modern fashion.

    However, to have a monochromatic canvas hanging on the wall of a museum and promoting such a "work" as art is a waste of space, IMO.

    Like poetry, art appreciation is an area of personal taste. But I believe that any art has to have some kind of substance. Otherwise, it is not art, IMO.

  44. He acknowledges the imminent war.

    In 1939, the war was no longer "Imminent" in Spain. It was nearly "over". Guernica was 2 years in the past...

    Satire? Doubtful.

  45. In '36, war was imminent. That's when Dali painted his "soft construction" that you referenced earlier.

  46. But that's the point, AOW. It's your opinion and if you go to a museum that doesn't challenge that opinion are you really getting a complete experience. Walk past it if you like but don't assume there aren't many who have a different perspective.

    Solid color, Ellsworth Kelly?

    Brilliant painter. Minimalists are mystics and that might not appeal to you but it's meat and potatoes to me.

  47. Duck,
    Have it your way about canvases with solid colors. I don't get that at all!

    As for eclectic tastes, people can like what they choose to like.

    But I believe that most art should be "obvious," and not something that people can mistake for trash.


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