I’ve been thinking about contemporary art after my nephew said that I was making fun of something I didn’t understand when I sent out a tweet that said: “Much (not all, but much) of contemporary art is a steaming pile of manure. Exhibit A: #catellan “All” at the #guggenheim.” This is my effort to explain my attempts to understand contemporary art, and then explain why so much of it is a wasteland of imitation, and a modern example of the old story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
I wanted to like contemporary art. I really did. I realized some time ago that I did not have a good grasp of what contemporary art was all about, so I set out to remedy my lack of knowledge. I began to read art history books (My favorite so far is called The Shock of the New, by Robert Hughes, an art critic whom I respect). I visited SFMOMA MOMA The Getty Museum and the Detroit Institute of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Guggenheim Museum with a main goal being to look at contemporary art and try and understand it.
Some of it is very good. I love Modigliani (He’s probably pre-contemporary) and Edward Hopper. I’m also a huge fan of Andrew Wyeth, Ansel Adams, and Georgia O’Keeffe. I even like Makoto Fujimura (Did an illuminated Bible. Very cool.) My sister-in-law, Joyce, pointed out the Chinese artist Zao Wou Ki, he is an abstract painter, but I like his work, so I don’t hate on contemporary art solely because it is abstract.
My disillusion came when I began to investigate the paintings of Jackson Pollock. He is best known for his works where he dripped paint onto canvas, and his paintings look pretty much like he…dripped paint on canvas. Here is an example: It’s called “Lavender Mist.”