Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ART and ALL THAT




On my recent trip to NY, I spent a lot of time in art museums. What I noticed was a lot of installation art. I think I've said before here, I don't get most installation art.

What is a room full of newspapers pasted on the floor, some painted blue, supposed to tell me. What are a hundred monitors playing the same footage all about? What do orange peels mean? Art may be beautiful, it may tell us a truth about ourselves, it may point out illusions, it may capture a time, point up injustice, it makes you look at something in a new way. I'm sure the last is what most installation art is meant to do. But is everything worth looking at?

Clearly installation art's only for museums large enough to hold it-nobody would ever buy such art. So if you're creating art solely for museums, don't you enter into a pact with curators on some level. It's either get picked up by a museum or you're trash. Literally.

I also noticed many pieces featuring sex and violence. One piece was a naked woman twirling a hula hoop made of barbed wire. In the museum, PS I, the art from the sixties was just about being naked. But by 2010, nakedness didn't cut it so they had to find something that did.

At the MOMA, Marina Abramović's work is given a whole floor. The artist herself sits on the first floor all day long staring at whoever cares to sit across from her. Is this more than a gimmick? It makes a small point, but then what? Other exhibits had naked people two inches apart, people back to back, etc. Such a static use of live bodies.

Do you think one hundred years from now this art will be more than a curiosity?

My husband says that since we have come to respect non-representational art, we will acquire a taste for this, too. Do you think so?

What pieces of art move you most? What's art to you?

25 comments:

Deb said...

I could spend all day looking at a Joseph Cornell box and never get tired of it. He used to send them to female movie stars--who probably thought he was a crackpot and threw the things into the trash. Quelle dommage!

George said...

I have to respectfully disagree with Phil. Most modern art is junk and time will expose the frauds. I appreciate Old School qualities like draftsmanship and use of color.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, boy, I have to check him out, Deb. New name for me.
I don't think he likes it, George. Just figures we haven't acquired the eye. I regard it as a big hoax. Maybe art deadended.

Paul D. Brazill said...

The Painted Word pretty much summed up the modern 'art' thing years ago, I think.

I used to go to a lot of exhibitions in London in the early 90's -Hurst, Emin & the like. mainly because the booze was free. most of it was silly. Some silly and fun and some just rubbish.

Art cricism in general is a waste of time, though.'Oooh, that looks good.' or 'Oooh, I don't like the look of that' will do the job, most of the time.

Pete Doig's work stands up well and he's a nice lad, as I remember.

Fleur Bradley said...

Most (modern) museum art just makes me think, but that's about it. I think a lot of it is more of a sign of the times with current value, rather than something with longevity.

Personally, I'm more a nature-as-art person: rocks, sticks, plants and landscape paintings.

I just realized I'm kind of boring :-)

Dorte H said...

I know I am old-fashioned when it comes to art, music and literature, but I don´t care.

A Danish ´artist´ canned some of his crap years ago, and my husband and I enjoyed it quite a lot when our brand-new minister of cultural affairs was asked what he thought about these exhibits the other day. "Crap" he said :D

pattinase (abbott) said...

And I like pictures with people in them. Photography best of all.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love it, Dorte. An honest critic.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

I am quite content to be a rube. The art on my walls has aesthetic value and is the work of gifted persons. And some of it moves, me too. I have a masterful Russell Chatham lithograph of winter twilight in a hayfield, and it draws me into it until I feel both the peace and the chill of the scene.

Enchanted Oak said...

I still haven't acquired a taste for installation art, and it's been quite a few years now.
I like art that stirs the spirit in me. For that reason, I don't respond well to still life and landscape. Give me humans, I guess.

Richard Prosch said...

I agree Patti, that it's a big hoax. In college I supported the National Endowment for the Arts w/o reserve, but now I'm more skeptical. For example, watching as tax money went to a guy who painted an entire Wyoming house with melted cheese was too much to bear.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, it has to pull you in or make you aware of some truth. Something. I guess every industry leaves itself open to some deadend trends but this one has lasted too long. I wish someone had come on here and defended it though. I'd love to hear their take.

Dana King said...

Art is what happens when craft is infused with genius. "Interesting" is not art. "Fun" is not art. "Thought-provoking" may be art, but it doesn't have to be.

As Gustav Mahler said when a student asked if he thought a piece of music was interesting, interesting is easy. Beautiful is difficult. All art has a beauty to it, even when its ugly.

Oh, and staring at random people for hours at a time does not make one an artist. It just shows she's weird. Possibly a drug addict or mentally ill. If she was serious about being an artist and not a curiosity, she'd be out creating something besides creepy vibes.

David Cranmer said...

I'm all across the board when it comes to art. My eye is drawn the fastest to Dali's abstract but Impressionism and Warhol's Pop also hits the mark.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'm open to anything up to installation art. I love a lot of those mid-century artists--although they may have pointed the way to this.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, can you imagine wasting days for the Whitney Biennial sitting there. I think she likes the worshipful eyes on her. And there were many people staring at them. Weird.

Richard Robinson said...

When we begin a discussion of installation art, we're talking about a very specific kind of work made by an artist, something intended solely to make that particular statement and nothing else. It doesn't have to be pretty, or funny or likable, it's only "here's my statement" do with it what you will, think of it what you will". What people think of it – and say so, especially the recognized critics - is the underlying second goal of the work, but that's only the artist's ego wanting input.

I have seen some installation art that was striking, thought-provoking, beautiful. I have seen a LOT of it that seems (to me) ill-conceived, ugly and pointless.

Many museums these days have a strong mandate to exhibit cutting edge works, and there aren't as many artists in other mediums doing works which meet that definition these days. The director of exhibits in any museum has a mandate to present things which will bring people to see it, and anything controversial may meet that mandate.

My favorite museum, the Irvine Museum, specializes in plein aire paintings. It doesn't have to have any "gate" at all, it's fully funded by it's corporation. Most museums aren't so lucky. So if someone can talk a good concept involving, say, piles of half-crushed dot-matrix printers, pointing out something like "cultural relevancy", and if people would then pay to see the resultant installation, we have success, whether anyone likes the thing or not.

The further art moves from presentation to concept, the more we see the Artist (an individual who embodies the work) instead of the artist, a person who draws, paints, sculpts, illustrates, photographs, etc.

Richard Robinson said...

Boy, do I know how to kill a thread, or what? I guess I need to get up earlier in the morning if I'm going to get in on these discussions before they are over.

Evan Lewis said...

Though my higher-toned friends think I have the soul of a cockroach, I think most non-representational art is good only for laughs.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nah, we're just eating dinner. Sushi and boy was it swell.
A really nice summation of installation art and all the jazz, Rick.
Evan-I do like Jackson Pollack and some of his contemporaries. I can see color and scale and design. It's what came after that puzzles me.

Paul D. Brazill said...

'The colours the wrong shape' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbkXRB29kT0&feature=related

the walking man said...

I have always found most installation art to be something that only the artist could give an iconography on. Funny thing was the damn explanation of the intent and meaning of the installation changed with every questioner.

No I suppose my appreciation stopped just north of the 20th Century Dadaists.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Got to share that, Paul.
Should you have to explain art, Mark. I wonder. Seems like it should make its point pretty clearly--unlike poetry and prose, I guess.

Jenn Jilks said...

Yes, I don't get the installation art, myself! That doesn't mean it is worthwhile for some, as it does have a message! Good post.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I think of art as something I can't do. I can scribble, splash paint on a canvas, paint vertical or horizontal lines in various colors, and solder scraps of metal together. Last week I was in L.A. and visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. (When I saw the sign for MOCA I thought it was a latte stand.) My reaction was that 90% of what they displayed was a fraud and/or joke.