art interpertation 101

London Travel Blog

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I've been hitting up a lot of the galleries lately and truly appreciating that Jess made me take Art History with her so that I can understand more of the work. That being said, there are still a lot of thigs I may still be too uncultured to understand or I simply don't like.

First off, please disregard earlier post about appreciation of religion - if I see one more representation of the The Adoration of Kings, I will smush baby jesus' face in his own myrrh.

Also in the National Gallery is Paolo Veronese's Allegory of Love series: Unfaithfulness, Scorn, Respect, and Happy Union. I don't know if I would consider 50:50 odds to be very inspiring. Especially since respect, while important, is about as exciting as 'sincerity' so let's call it 62:38 against.

I also visited the Tate Modern. I'm not opposed to moderm art, I enjoy my Magritte and Dali as much as the next person. They have created truly fascinating and thoughtful works. Commentaries on society and politics even. But when you have random characters like Rothko, Newman, and Mondrian out there talking about the deep emotion in their work, I am skeptical. Not because I think I could do it just as well, because I have trouble drawing straight lines. I just have a hard time with the idea that the red line on a maroon canvas is representative of conflict and god and lightness. Maybe it's just a red line. Or Rothko, with his precisely hung maroon and black canvases to make us feel depressed and trapped in the room? Wouldn't we get the same effect in a prison cell without costing millions?

Along simliar lines, the whole idea of readymade/concept art is beyond my comprehension as well. When I look at a toilet, I don't think Duchamp is a genius and an artist. I think he's a freak. And don't even get me started on Manzoni - the man has canned and sold his feces for over $50,000. He is either incredibly sick or a marketing genius.

In defense of his restroom-waste-as-art presentation, Duchamp says that the idea and not the work is what truly creates art; art is defined by the artist and ergo can be anything. I would like to take the intent v. impact approach and say that maybe art is defined by the viewer. Because even if you intend your can-of-poop to be a great social commentary, if the impact on viewers is distaste, then perhaps it is not really art. Please spare me the arguments about shock and disgust leading to dialogue and thus creating dialogue in the community. That may be true in some cases, but this is a CAN OF POOP! I am not discussing it with anyone.

On a different artistic note, the Tate also had a display on the lack of female and minority artist representation in London galleries. An all too true joke: If February is Black History Month and March is Women's History Month, what happens the rest of the year?



This reminds me of when Zully heard some guy complaining about International Women's Day and asking why we do not observe International Men's Day. Because International Men's Day is observed the other 364.25 days of the year!

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photo by: ulysses