Vesica Blog - Taking museum and art collections to the cloud

June 13, 2010

Modern Art: The good, the bad and the ugly

Filed under: For Art's Sake — Tags: , , , , — Asif N @ 11:30 pm

Before I became involved with Vesica, I must admit that my interest in art was, well, quite limited. I must confess that I have heard one too many times about the modern geniuses of art – in the western world, they only have European art as we can’t trace the history back to much further than 700 years – we hit a brick wall called the dark ages. Nonetheless, for many years I wondered whether it was I who did not understand the genius of new upcoming artists, whether I was just too old at heart to only appreciate some of the traditional and classical stuff, or whether I was just not competent enough to understand what modern art was all about.

What I’ve never understood is that with everything else in life, we generally believe that simple is better. With contemporary or modern art, though, if you cannot understand it, it’s genius! I’m not sure who came up with that, but it may very well be just another scam. That’s not to say all contemporary art is bad; most of it is riddled with abstraction and squibbles of lines and paint that make no sense; many contemporary artists have to explain the piece of work they have created by retracing and explaining, in many cases, the monstrosities they have created.

Now because many of my dealings in working for Vesica have involved contact with art collectors and consultants who help such collectors put together their collections, I am sometimes baffled by the lack of foresight that goes into collecting this art. Most modern art today is painted on acryllic with synthetic paints – most of these won’t last half a century. What I’m not too sure about is why the new breed of collectors is obsessed with collecting this art. It may make for a good decorative piece or it may be a good gesture to support an emerging artist, but if you are going to overpay for a bunch of zig zag (and in many cases, nonsensical) lines to help an artist build his/her name, at least buy something that will last so that if the artist does indeed become successful, you and your heirs can benefit from the investment you made.

I suppose one of the dangers of contemporary and modern art is that those who collect it are generally not seasoned collectors – many of these collectors are the young, hip crowd that’s trying too hard to ‘understand’ art that is promoted by the majority of galleries in large, metropolitan cities around the world. Coming back full circle to the danger, a group of people who have no understanding of the subject of art are helping promote another group that’s just become invovled with the subject to make money.

I believe, and I may very well be wrong (after all you too are entitled to your opinion), if  a piece of art doesn’t speak to you when you first look at it, visually or spiritually, it’s just not worth collecting. Traditional art has a sense of perfection or passion about it; modern art is plain boring and hurts my eyes rather than pleasing them. It negates the purpose of collecting art.

I’m sure you have read about the recent event of the dynamite and bomb ‘art’ setting off police alarms and at the Pimlico Gallery in London- nothing about that was cool or representative of the fears of the 21st century in which we live. It was more like a high school prank – something modern artists have come to call ‘installations’.

Just as soon as I find a piece of modern art in the galleries of London that speaks to me, I’ll be sure to write good things about it. For now, unfortunately, I’m not seeing much good in most modern art. The bad is that those who are promoting and buying this art don’t really get what they’re buying. The ugly, the artist is also generally clueless.

Some day I will write about why modern art sucks – for now, I really, really want to give it a chance. If you can’t wait to see what I’ll write, here’s an article that you will surely enjoy reading by Jeff of High Concept Media in British Columbia, Canada: “Modern art sucks, and I’ll tell you why.”

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