Friday, October 13, 2006


My numerous unkind remarks about modern art have led some to conclude that I am opposed to all such art. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am opposed to bad art, and it is easier for bad art to hide amongst contemporary art than amongst art that requires talent or skill. But I love lots of modern art. Here are some of my favorites. These almost set me to yodeling:

credits: the art above is by, in order, Gottlieb, Miro, Motherwell, Miro, Dubuffet, Goldsworthy


lotusgreen said...

can you really yodel?

David Apatoff said...

I didn't think so until I saw that Adolph Gottlieb painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. It's as big as a wall, and you can bungee jump into that red.

leifpeng said...

Those are all great examples of what I was getting at - and what spacejack expressed even better than I could. Looking at abstract work like that always makes me think, "hhmm, very interesting. What a nice sense of design," or "what a clever use of colour and shape". But hearing that you could yodel at the sight of something like this always makes me feel inadequate - like when I would go to the Sunday services at various friends' churches and the minister would say, "Have you found Jesus?" or "Have you accepted the Lord into your heart?" with that dilerious look of swooning involvement, and I'd look around and wonder, "What am I not getting here???"

My mother is the same way as you - she'll look at a huge canvas with a couple of swooshes of colour and a little twisted noodle of paint in one corner and clutch her chest and let out a sigh and a whispered "Ohmigod!"

Meanwhile, I'm like, "That's neat, but I bet it was more fun for the artist to paint than it is for me to look at."


David Apatoff said...

Leif, my reaction to all this stuff is purely personal. I don't claim to be an expert on the philosophies behind modern and post-modern art. In fact, I have a bias against the kind of art that requires you to read a manifesto (with footnotes!) to understand whether the art is good or not. My polar star in art is personal titillation.

Having said that, if you are interested in how I personally respond to this stuff, I will be happy to post something fleshing out my views. I enjoy comparing notes about art with you and others.

In some ways, it's a lot easier to paint abstractly because you're never bedeviled with questions like, "does this leg need to be longer" or "do I need to deepen the color of that shadow? But on the other hand, without nature providing guidelines, the abstract painter is confronted by a bilion possible choices and no objective point of reference to tell the painter when he or she is on the right track. Under these circumstances, when a painter gets it exactly "right," I think the result is worthy of great respect. I will post some images tomorrow to try to show you what I mean.

leifpeng said...

Wonderful. I'm never disappointed by what I learn from your posts, David thanks! :-)

Joss Paddock said...

okay I'm reading all the way through your old archives because I find it so intellectually stimulating. the comments /dialogue as much as, if not more than the great sparks of your posts.

I've had that experience in church too, and in front of much abstract art. The world is so complex, personal taste can be wildly different but isn't objective beauty just shared taste, which can be measured in some way though never completely. The golden proportion after all is a relationship between the finite(objective) and the infinite(subjective).
Iknow I'm devolving into abstract babble, but that's the effect of your blog on me.