What constitutes art for you?
Do you prefer the Old Masters or the New Pretenders?
Just last week we visited the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London. I’d very much have liked to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum too, but time was a factor, and when we found ourselves on the South Bank the Tate was right there. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, though hubby didn’t make it past the first floor of exhibits. He disappeared outside to enjoy the sunshine and the Thames instead, leaving my daughters and me to peruse the gallery.
Now, art is subjective, that’s for sure. I lean toward the classics from Michelangelo and Da Vinci, to the Italian Renaissance and the Impressionists. I very much revel in Degas, Botticelli, Raphael, Rembrandt, Waterhouse (one of my most favourite artists, I adore Ophelia), Monet, Renoir, Turner, Van Gogh (I love his night sky!)and many more, but as we move to Picasso, and the modernists, though I loved his blue period and early work, his Cubism starts to lose me. Mondrian and similar artists don’t do much for me, but I do appreciate their value as art and to the eternally progressing world of art. On another note, though, Salvador Dali is a wonder, and his paintings are totally me!
What do you call art?
A fascinating question. My art teacher at school was obsessed by Henry Moore’s sculptures and being a classicist myself I lost interest as she constantly bombarded us with Moore, as an adult I’ve grown into his work, but as a teen he didn’t interest me.
So, in London we wandered the Tate, and Caitlin and I shared much conversation. Cait’s about to start her art A-levels and the gallery offered a great look at what constituted modern art.
How is a huge, yellow, scalene triangle hung on the wall a piece of art? It doesn’t appear to take a lot of talent or even time to create a large piece in yellow. Vince and Cait asked how it was art. It wasn’t something that appealed to me, not my thing at all, but it is art. I didn’t take a picture of it and I can’t find a link, but you can imagine it. And, there it is – imagination – that’s the answer. Vince stared at it, and that was when he pretty much gave up and went outside to enjoy the sun instead, and I caught the irony. I said it was about imagination, about how the piece made you feel, and what you saw. There was no explanation for this piece. But to me it was sunshine, or lemons – I could taste lemons just looking at the colour, or happiness, or a sail of a yacht – or whatever you saw or felt.
There were pieces that didn’t get me, though I appreciated the work that went into them. One room was full of what looked like wool, set up across the ceiling and room like huge spider webs, but it was in actual fact, black human hair, donated by local Indian Temples, and woven together, and if you looked closely you could see the plaits and weaves that artist had spent hundreds of hours on, incredibly labour intensive. Sheela Gowda‘s piece showed vulnerability and control but it was weirdly wonderfully odd!
Some modern art, I’ll never understand. Some of it just exists to poke fun at or rebel against classical art, or against politics, or ethics etc, but some is really beautiful despite having a very different form to classical art. I like to analyse, and if the artist can show me what they were thinking when they made it, then I’ll welcome it as art. The exhibits that frustrated me most were those where the artists said there was no thought process, no meaning, then I struggle to see it as art. Art needs meaning to be art to me!
Another exhibit, I didn’t photograph was African and looked politically charged, but the artist had no explanation or reason behind it, and that’s when you lose me. I like things to have meaning.
I totally loved David Alfaro Siquerios – Cosmos and Disaster. It was about the Spanish Civil War, but spoke about the sadness and futility of war, any war, to me. I loved the raw quality and the depiction of barbed wire across the paint. It spoke of desolation.
I also loved Hamed Abdalla – Defeat. The mixed media, and the subject pulled me in. silver leaf aluminium and burning with a blow torch, the photo doesn’t do it justice, but it truly made me feel defeat, loss and abandonment.
I tend to go for the dark side in art, and that also showed in the art that fascinated me, they were the pieces that made me stop and consider.
The Tate, however, offered some art that I did not understand, did not like, or just wasn’t my thing, but it also offered a lot of works that inspired me, thrilled me and fascinated me. Some I loved and some I slipped right into. I’ve peppered my favourites amongst this post.
Art is anything to me that is expression, emotion, surreal, classic, beautiful, strange – anything that is emotive or expressive…
What do you think? What constitutes art to you?
And which do you prefer, classic or modern,
or do you love to appreciate all art?