I guess you could call me an aspiring art critic, an admirer of Clive Bell and Frida Kahlo reincarnated with a dash of Rococo.

  • Alexia Morris

Is modern art real art?

Art is social movement which has grown and changed alongside the modernisation of society. However, art has gone from being a way of showing off your social class and financial position to being a platform where the most shocking piece of artwork is the next best thing. There is a website called debate.org where this question, is modern art real art, was put to a vote. 67% said no and 33% said yes. After voting people wrote down the reasoning behind their opinions, Mascista, who had voted no, validated their choice by saying:”Look! I can squirt paint on the canvas, throw seaweed and hair onto it, and burn it halfway through. £100,000 please.”

Modern art can be debatable, during the Christmas holidays I went to the Saatchi gallery in London where there was an exhibition of the Russian artist, Oleg Kulik, and basically he ranks among the most interesting and controversial Russian artists. He is a performance artist and his exhibitions have been characterised as "strongly expressive" as he himself assumes a role of "artist-animal". So I was walking around watching videos of a naked Russian man on a leash, barking at other dogs. Even though this sounds completely bazaar, to Kulik he was expressing what he thinks is a crisis of contemporary culture, a result of an overly refined cultural language which creates barriers. By representing himself as an animal he is speaking the language of another species and removing these barriers created by society and by evolution. This is what his art means to him and that is why he has used his body and photography to convey his opinion.

Modern art is not something that I have a lot of knowledge on, however, I believe that modern art is real art. Back to debate.org the argument for yes was: “Art is art. There is nothing called fake art or real art. It’s like saying rap isn’t real music.” An artist called Thomas Merton said that, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Art is not something that can be liked by everyone. Each movement, each piece can be interpreted in a number of ways by evoking different emotions in different people. For example when the impressionists first hit the art scene, the work of masters such as Monet were discarded and referred to as incomplete scribbles. Yet now, the impressionists have created a platform whereby modern artists are able to break the rules, as they did. They gave birth to nudity, the common person, movement and expression rather than just focusing on realism.

Convergence by Jackson Pollock is a famous painting which is a collage of colours splattered onto a canvas that create shapes and lines that arouse emotions and attack the eye. This piece is huge, it is 2.35 metres by 4 metres. Therefore at first glance it would be extremely overwhelming and completely chaotic, as if someone was holding buckets of paint and a wasp was attacking them around a canvas. However, this piece is an emblem of freedom of speech and expression. This piece is political. Pollock threw mud in the face of convention and rebelled against the constraints of societies oppressions. To him it stands for America. At the time of this painting, 1952, the United States took the threat of communism and the cold war with Russia very seriously. Therefore, Convergence was about showing the forward thinking and liberalism of the US. Even the name Convergence conveys that there’s joining and combining amongst the American people.

Art has always been about breaking the rules, its all about freedom of expression and being able to create a visual emblem of your thoughts. It started off as being an industry where you had to paint what you saw. But even then the most beautiful pieces of art sometimes look better than the real thing, hence why Henry VIII loved having his portrait painted. Hans Holbein; you brave man. Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Emin and Pollock… these artists painted what they saw and not what everyone else did. That is why art historians cannot stop analysing artworks, a new person will spark a new interpretation. Modern art may be abstract and you may not see what the artist is trying to convey, but thats the whole point. Art is not there to be liked, there is no point in painting a picture of a daisy and saying:” I painted it in a field because I thought it was pretty.” As great as that would look on the fridge it would not evoke any emotion besides,”oh isn’t that lovely.” Art is another language, it is a way of expressing yourself. Even though some modern art may not take up a conventional form it shows the story of an artist, a moment of time captured in their own language. Therefore modern art is real art.

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My name is Alexia and I am 20 years old. I am currently studying History of art at Oxford Brookes University and found that it has inspired me to really look at art with a different eye. I follow a critic called Jerry Saltz on Instagram and through reading his work and looking at the writings of Vasari and Clive Bell I have realised that I have an extreme love for writing and talking about art. I do paint in my spare time and have always loved it but I have always found it so interesting to learn new things about artists. I remember learning about the life of Toulouse-Lautrec when I wrote about Women at their 'toilette' for my A-level coursework and being completely fascinated by his absinthe addiction and what he got up to. When you find out about the life and personality of an artist it really changes your opinion on their works which is not necessarily a good thing but it is something which is completely relevant. When I learnt about The Bloomsbury group and how they intended to dissociate form, colour and lines with a subject matter I learnt this new way of observing art. I always find that keeping an open mind no matter how hard it may be is the only way to fully and truly appreciate a piece, so that is what I intend to use this blog for.


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