Thursday, December 06, 2007

But is it art?

I've got to say I'm no expert when it comes to art. I like Egon schiele, Ramon Casas, Degas, and Lautrec, probably a few more that my cough medicine addled brain cannot reach for this fine morning.
I know art is subjective but I have NEVER understood modern art and cannot fathom how a Pollock is superior to a Francis Bacon. I just don't get it at all. Why cubes on a blank canvas, what is it supposed to represent? What do all those splatters of pain mean? Is that emotion? How are we supposed to know?
I was unimpressed by Tracy Emin's messy 'bed' a few years back, and though mildly tickled by Damien Hirst's glittering bejeweled skull, I find a lot of his stuff goes right over my head too. Finally it dawned on me that maybe I'm just not their target audience and I should just accept that and go on enjoying what I liked.
I had almost stopped wondering about it and would cheerfully have not given it another thought when I read the times culture this morning. My eyes widened when I read...

"Mark Wallinger, 48, from Chigwell in Essex, has been intriguing visitors to the Turner exhibition at Tate Liverpool with Sleeper, in which, dressed in synthetic fur, he wanders aimlessly around a gallery long after closing time, looking out at passers-by and occasionally disappearing from sight."

For this he was awarded £25,000.
I am scratching my head in complete confusion again.

I mean, can someone explain that to me? How is dressing up in a pretty worn bear suit and wandering around art? I genuinely would like even the slightest hint of enlightenment on the subject. What am I not getting? Are you getting it?
Is there a getting it?



Blogger John Braine said...

Pollock is one of those artists where seeing a photo doesn't do it any justice and it seems easy enough to dismiss it as bolloxollogy but they really are very different seeing the real thing. They're fairly trippy, the paint in the background looks like it fades off into the distance and there's a mad perception of depth. And some of them really look like mad ariel views of land and stuff like that.

If you're really interested, I'd recommend Simon Schama's 'Power of art'. It's not arty bollox - it's fairly interesting as was the TV show of the same name this year.

11:13 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I will take a gander and thank you most kindly for the Pollock consideration. It's always nice to learn something. If I ever get the chance to view one in person I shall take it.
What was your view on the bear?

11:16 a.m.  
Blogger The Bad Ambassador said...

This is big news for male strippograms.... dress as a gorilla... you are officially and artist... claim artists tax exemption.


11:35 a.m.  
Blogger John Mc said...

I'm with John. Pollock and Rothco look pretty spectacular in real life. I always thought of them as a cross between interior design and art. They can function as a distinct piece of art, or you can view them in the context of the room they are in. This is why they really grab your attention in a gallery / museum.

11:50 a.m.  
Anonymous eva said...

I don't get it either.
And what about his recreation of the Parliament Square protest?
Or Nathan Coley's sign "There will be no miracles here"?
I scratch my head and wonder whatever I am missing.

11:51 a.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Not a Schiele fan meself, prefer Chagall, Klee, Varo and others.

I think most good art combines energy and tension and allows us to project meaning onto it. In other words art exists as much in the act of apprehending as in the act of creation. (Ok, so stick me in pseuds corner).

This has reached an apogee/nadir with increasing dependence on interpretation and mediation between the 'work' and the viewer. Hence the 'Bear' in the empty gallery is vindicated as art through a process of interpretation.

Me, I don't buy it. Curators are the Reiki practitioners of the art world.

11:52 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

It is extremely difficult to try to explain performance and/or intallation work to somebody. You just have to experience it and react to it. I liked the bear, but my interpretation might be different to yours - and I also like Tracy Emin - she has made herself the art. The Damian Hirst skull is incredible. Think about it, diamonds on a skull. What does that say to you about mortality and mammon. Nevertheless, we all have our own subjective favourite artists (and the ones we think are rubbish!). I absolutely love Rothko, sitting in a room in a gallery with a Rothko is a life enhancing, almost religious experience for me.

11:52 a.m.  
Anonymous eva said...

I agree completely with Conan.
"art exists as much in the act of apprehending as in the act of creation".
I don't like that these days art seems to be something that you "have to" understand or get - if somebody tells you that it's great, you have to think it's great.
The last exhibition I went to see was work by Andy Warhol - I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, since I've never "got" him.
I came out angry and frustrated that I had actually paid money to see it.

11:59 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

installation, even.

12:01 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Now see, that's exactly what I mean. And the rather cool thing about art. I don't get Rothko (whom I had to google) at all. Not even in the slightest. I don't understand it. But Shebah can take something almost magical from it. Terrific.
Conan, nay to klee, si si to Varo.
I have to say I was introduced very late to art. So I am sheltered in many respects, but I do make it my business to visit at least two museums a year.
Not a museum, but one of my favourite places is in Els Quatro Gats in Barcelona, stuffed with paintings and photos and atmosphere and some truly awful grouchy waiters. But if sit in there on a wet afternoon in winter, have a beer and you close your eyes for a second you can be transported back in time, where a young Picasso organised his first exposition and idealists fought and bickered endlessly.

12:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

FMC - "you close your eyes for a second you can be transported"

that is exactly the affect art can have on you - not necessarily back in time - just transported, full stop. It can also annoy, irritate, sadden, gladden - so long as it doesn't bore you!

12:26 p.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

Eh - art either resonates with you or it doesn't. There are many modern artists I 'get' and many I think are pure shite. I think there's less snobbery involved in art appreciation than there is in some circles where jazz is concerned. I've never had an artists sniff to me "well you just don't GET it," but I have had jazz fans say things like "well, it takes a sophisticated ear to hear the melody."

Which is, of course, pure bollocks.

Bollock rhymes with Pollock. Hey, I like Pollock - but I haven't had the pleasure of seeing one up close...

I tend to go for the dark, expressionistic stuff. Munch, for example. But I also really, really dig the Preraphaelites too. I guess for me it's more about subject matter than technique.

What am I rambling for. I've got work to do and coffee to drink.

How's the cold, oh ye of the delightful ankles?

12:33 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I am spluttering my way to a resolution, darling rabbit. Hopped up on Benelin and Frenadol I feel almost human again. I had a total crash, deaf, really bad mouth ulcers, the works. Most odd.

12:40 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Reminds me of Homer tring to build a bbq, fu*king it up and the messy result getting bought by an art dealer...
Its all very subjective.

1:28 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Snarf. That episode reminds me of whenever the paramour tries to build ANYTHING. Handy with tools he is not.

1:34 p.m.  
Blogger Dr. James McInerney said...

As the reporter on the Daly Show said:

"What attracts collectors to a work of art is the chance to own a piece of history, to gaze upon something that was touched by genius, and then to take it to your mansion where no one else may gaze upon it, and then to lick it."

1:45 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Amazingly, of all the useless courses that I've taken to build up my unemployed status, I've never taken one in art history. I adore wandering museums but I have to say that most modern art seems drained of the human form and therefore cold to me.

1:49 p.m.  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

I only come over to say, like,


wish I was coming with yer.

Ooooooh, such a time we'd have.
Oh Yeah!

But enough of that. I was sidetracked by Jackson Pollock.[sp?]

May I suggest like Mr Braine and John Mc that you get a hold of an Open University programme on just this very man. I can't remember the presenter (not Schama) but it may prove revelationary.
If I could do the same with poetry and mathemetics for you, think of the tremendous music we'd make. The world would tremble at our feet. We'' my feet and your perfect ankles.
Have a swell trip.
Missing you already, but you knew that.

2:06 p.m.  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

Well, not We"

I think the fuckin L key is suspect on this machine.

2:09 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Darling, I interrupted my impression of Sarah Brightman to say as much as I would ADORE the company of a ravishing laird such as yourself, there's no testosterone allowed on this trip-well, Etheline could be injecting, that's still questionable, maybe her voice was always that deep. Who can say?
No No dearest doctacularone, this trip is for they lay-dees* The pre-wedding lay-dees. All the lovely laydees ah yeah. Huzzah!

* hears flight of the concords. Ponder a Brightman/Bret twosome, feels slightly giddy.

2:27 p.m.  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

There is something tingly about your deep-voiced sister. Has she gone a bit hirsute? Don't mind that actually. Quite like it. Look never mind that, Celtic are through, can't remember whether the Woolwich millionaires have made it yet, but assuming they have, you should visit the Camp New (as we have to call it now). I did, bought the Larsson Shirt No. 7 and this Barca fan came up to me and shook my hand. It was semi-mystical.

Stole my watch the fucker.

2:50 p.m.  
Anonymous bendersbetterbrother said...

Briefly, bear suit+$25,000=art, no. Bear suit + $25,000=take the piss.

More importantly, from the Hatton/Mayweather weigh in...

After a typically rambling speech from Mayweather's uncle and trainer Roger, Hatton quipped, "thank you Roger for making the winter a little bit shorter".

3:28 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi FMC. Sorry to comment on a previous post in a completely different thread but, I just read your post from the end of Nov re Fox hunting. I, like others, had a tear in my eye reading it, for the torture of the fox but especially for the discription of your father. I love reading, any good novel will do, and can honestly say that that post was one of the best things I have ever read. Profound, moving and a very clear statement of opinion (one I agree with). Congratulations.

3:35 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

BBB: 4 o'fecking clock on sun morning its being showing here. Oh, I wont be a happy bunny in work monday morning.

Hatton to win on points.

3:49 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Docky the only thing I'll do outside Camp Nou is shout '16 million, 16 million! A bargain hombre... when he's fit!" And then I shall run away, straight to a bar.
BBB, ha, he's a funny little duck is he not. I still haven't put my bet on, I may go do it tonight. I wanted to place it in Boylens on Camden Street yesterday, but there was a pigeon eating a pool of vomit outside the door.
Sheep, that's how I'm backing it too. I think he'll go the distance.
Anonymous, thank you very much, most kind of you to take the time to comment.

3:58 p.m.  
Blogger Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Have lovely times in Barca, toots!

5:34 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I promise I will have a G&T in Navarra in your honour Sam, and search the skies for signs of dropping birds.
I might actually kill my sister before I Leave this country, she's like Susan Sarandon's character in Thelma and Louise. If she calls me once more to 'check' things I will pull my hair out. NO! I will pull her hair out. Hers.

5:47 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Have a wonderful time!
I'm terribly jealous, btw.

6:09 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Ah jealousy, my closest ally at times. Thank you darling. I will do my level best.

7:29 p.m.  
Anonymous Fiona said...

Like many teenage/twentysomething girls, that Egon Schiele painting was a favourite, and I’ve had a grá for his work since. Went on holidays to New York 3 years ago and found that the Neue Galerie were having a Schiele exhibition – such a brilliant treat, it had many of his erotic paintings and drawings, but also self-portraits. One self-portrait, from around 1915 or thereabouts, could so easily have been a drawing of any of the Sex Pistols – punky and with attitude.

9:35 a.m.  
Blogger Eolaí gan Fhéile said...

Ah but FMC you do get Modern Art. All of those you list are from the world of Modern Art albeit the representative sort - it's abstract art, the non-representative form of Modern Art, that you seem to be saying you don't get.

I'm not trying to be a pain in the arse on this; I'm trying to point out that the artists you list were themselves thought of as bollocks and not got by many people of their time. To them even somebody who did figures as painterly as Degas strayed too far from what was considered art.

As well as representative landscapes and figurative stuff I also paint totally abstract things but for the most part keep them from the public eye because I can't face all the conversations about what is art.

I think it doesn't matter what's art, and it doesn't have to be a constant anyway. I might think darts isn't a sport but really it doesn't matter whether it is or it isn't - because it's still darts. And you get something from it, or you don't. (For the record, I like darts)

Some of my warmest moments in galleries have been the first time I saw a Howard Hodgkin, or a Patrick Heron. I almost did a long post a couple of days ago about that experience tied into a practical impact on me of seeing Rothko, Soulages, Pollock, Clyfford Still, Franz Kline and Barnett Newman. But I fell asleep.

Anyway, just look, like or dislike as you would with anything but know that you're not being had. The unknown abstract artists of the world aren't working away in bedrooms conning the world. Whether it's art or not it's what they do, and they'd do it regardless, just like some people dress up as bears.

Oh and Egon Schiele, moderate young perv that he was, is one of my favourite artists and bumping into an exhibition of his when cycling in an amazing little town in southern Bohemia is one of the best reasons I can think of to get off my arse and travel.

Matthew Collings' books are good fun and unpretentious.

5:04 p.m.  
Anonymous Drunky said...

Far too lazy to read all these comments so excuse me if this point has been made already oh sister, but 'Do you like how it looks?' is probably the only question that needs answering. Meaning schmeening, is it pleasing on the eye?

2:55 p.m.  
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5:42 a.m.  

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