Sorry about the tongue in cheek thread title but I couldn't resist. The following quotes are from a thread over on the JREF(James Randi) forum. I found myself nodding in agreement and seeming so did most other respondents to the thread.
Is my dislike of modern art related to my general sceptical nature??
Heres a funny link from the same thread:
Scientific American had an article on the fractal nature of Jackson Pollock's paintings within the last couple of years that you might find interesting.
Personally I too can empathise with the person quoted.
I do think much of modern art is a con, but then again that’s because it is a con. I don’t believe that I don’t like it because of some failing in my brain where I cannot “appreciate it” but because I can clearly see it’s a con. Nor did I like “The World According to Garp” or “The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, although I’m not saying they were cons, just bad books. A lot of Theatre and Film is also nonsense dressed up in pretentious clothes. Having said that I think the original Russian “Solaris” is a great film.
Didn’t some guy win the Tate prize recently for his work which consisted of the lights switching on and off.
What? You mean you have some godlike objective insight into what art objectively 'means'?
Exactly, "like" - as in subjective preference.
There's been plenty of "logical" art, there's been plenty of "romantic" art. There's also every kind of art in between those two (albeit arbitrarily drawn) extremes.
There's good art, there's bad art but the rules that determine that shift. I think art is a powerful skeptical tool - it reminds us there are other languages beyond the gesture and the word.
When I look at art, I try to find out about it, think through it, on its own terms. Otherwise you get nothing from it. Often I'm left unimpressed, sometimes invigorated.
Ironically, my favourite form of photography is of the German objectivist school, but I also love more subjective, romantic art.
Like any linguistic system, it ends up saying more than the sum of its parts. And sometimes even less!
Whats your opinion on the artist who got a STG£12,000 arts grant which he put to great use in a moving piece called......well I don't recall what it was called but it involved him pushing an Indian Curry in its silver takeaway tray along the ground with his nose up and down some street in stockport or somewhere.
Yeah, yeah great art makes you ponder and question art etc etc. Makes me question how big a grin he had on his face when he lodged the cheque in his bank account Damn I'm such a philistine
Its like religion, a person is entitled to believe what he/she wants as long as it doesn't affect me. An arty person is entitled to create and/or appreciate whatever art they like. I'd just object to my 'tax dollars' paying for the creation of the modern stuff like 'Curry in Motion'
'Curry in Motion' sounds like what happens to me after a Vindaloo. More seriously are you against state funding for the Arts? How is anyone to decide what works should be financially supported? Perhaps the best art gets recognized, even if controversial like the photographs of Mapplethorpe, without state support.
Interesting your comment on the similarity with religion. Some defenders of religion have tried to defend their beliefs along Wittgensteinian lines. I quote from 'What Philosophers Think' edited by Julian Baggini & Jeremy Stangroom,
If we replace 'religious' by 'artistic' and utterences as 'works of art' in the first two sentences I think you'll get the meaning of this approach. Hardly helps communication however. We are using language in different ways that are mutually incomprehensible. I'm not particularly in favour of this line of thinking. Seems to justify any nonsense.
David Hume in the eighteenth century in his essay 'Of The Standard of Taste' thought it natural for us to look for a rule, 'by which the various sentiments of men may be reconciled; at least, a decision, afforded, confirming one sentiment, and condemning another.' He realised the great difficulty in achieving this. Hume contrasts 'judgement' and 'sentiment.' Sentiment, that is how we individually feel about a work of art, is subjective and 'a thousand different sentiments, excited by the same object, are all right.'
This accords with Calibos's feelings. Hume of course lived in an age that didn't support the Arts with hard-earned 'tax dollars.'
Hume goes on to consider 'judgement.' If we are ever to discuss works of art in a rational way there must be some rule or standard to resolve disputes. Where are these standards to come from? Rules are certainly not a priori . To form a true judgement the critic must place himself in the same situation as the audience for whom the work was conceived and consider 1) what was the work aiming to achieve? 2) does it effectively achieve those aims? 3) do all the parts fit together in a pleasing way? and 4) is the whole intelligible?
I think much modern art has become esoteric and unintelligible to much of the public. An artist's aims today so often seem to be to shock and alienate. Shaking a few of our mental cobwebs might occassionally be no bad thing. Manet's 'Olympia' was shocking in 1870's Paris. But perversity seems merely to be the handmaiden of notoriety. Did anyone see the Channel 4 programme last year on Chinese performance artists one of whom had photographs taken of himself eating an aborted foetus, two others who took pictures of dead people in various poses and another (I suspect tongue in cheek ) couple from London who made 'penis wine' by pickling the member of a man undergoing a sex-change operation in wine and had a group of invited guests drink it. Now thats a con surely!
I'm too tired and busy to reply in length to this thread, but aesthetics is an area that really, really interests me.
Instead, I'll save myself, and all of you the trouble of quoting myself from a previous thread over on Art/Anim/Photo about the recent Turner prize nominations:
Oh, and I also found this, on the question of whether "art is a mirror":
Maybe that'll get things going
In a gallery there was a picture, a black square with the label Garfunkle.
Yes - but is it Art ?
I do accept that its all subjective and I have no problem with state funding of the arts either. I don't dislike all 'modern art'. Like that controversial piece in the Tate last year. The Bronze painted blowup dolls. I don't know, anything that took some time and effort to create. I have this idea in my head that that this blowup doll guy got his years grant. Pondered for a few weeks what his major piece that year would be, came up with the idea for his work, bought the materials and set about creating it. On the other hand I imagine Curry man got his grant, laughed all the way to the bank, pondered(sp?) for a few minutes and set off for the local curryhouse. Taking the p1ss quite simply. I just hope the grant administrators can distinguish between the p1sstakers and the real artist modern or otherwise.
On that very specific point, you may as well throw in Velasquez, Goya, Titian, Carravaggio, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Ruebens, Rothko - basically any 'great artist' who worked on commission, or in Velasquez' and Goya's cases, directly employed by the King of Spain. And they were the good artists. What about the lesser known artists?
I mean, to pick on Velasquez, he was more into social status and money that art. You think modern art is unique in this respect?
Perhaps it would be more instructive to ask what 'isn't' art.
I visited MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art) in New York a couple of years ago and enjoyed some of the exhibits but in my humble opinion the bag of cat litter leaning against the wall on the top floor exhibition is NOT art, regardless of who put it there or what profound thoughts they were thinking at the time they put it there! If this crap is art then lets get rid of the galleries for this sort of thing (and the exorbitant entry fee) and just tell people to go home and look around them ... at all the fine art.
The telling point in some way is some of the hilarious tests done which have indicated that (supposedly informed) people can't tell the difference between exhibitions done by elephants (literally) and the real deal ... surely that says something profound.
So here's a provocative criterion ... if you can't tell whether the 'work of art' was an accident (made by a passing wild animal) OR a human endeavour indicating skill, reflection and thought ... then it's probably not a work of art!!
Secondly ... if the 'work of art' is indistinguishable from the ordinary products of human daily activity (an unmade bed, a bag of cat litter, a used tissue) then that's what it probably is ... rather than a 'work of art'.
Sometimes you just have to tell the guy next to you that the emperor is naked!
We can get too bogged down in defining what is and isn't art. Its certainly more than what can be hung or displayed in a gallery. A lot of artists are turning against this sort of art and turning to 'Performance Art' and 'Happenings'. In last year's 'Festival of Dance' I saw a performance of three naked people prancing across a stage drawing on each other with a skin marker and at one point one squatted down to pee subsequently wiping chalked words off a blackboard at the rear with the urine. I wasn't shocked, merely bemused. The performance was hardly revolutionary, perverse is a better description. Lingers in the memory however. I wonder why. I thought 'Performance Art' was meant to be ephemeral.
Sceptics may feel more interested in the plastinated corpses of Gunter Von Hagens displayed in his 'Body World' exhibition still touring the world and which I managed to see in London a year ago (after a 2 hour queue). This might be stretching the term 'art' a little but his corpses are certainly displayed in dramatic poses, many pinched from the Old Masters. The early anatomy books by people like Vesalius had detailed artwork of skeletons standing and walking as if alive against country landscapes. Von Hagens is merely doing the same thing with dead bodies. His combination of art and anatomy is quite fascinating and the viewers, many of them quite young, seem very interested indeed.