Friday, July 26, 2013

Modern Art

Last night I was asking about places to go in DC the next day and someone suggested the Hirshhorn Museum. “Ughh!!” another of the group said “only if you like modern art…”. I do; in fact I wouldn’t have been interested in any other kind that day.
As I explored the museum the next day I thought more about this and about one of my goals on this trip; to develop my style of painting further. I’ve noticed that my paintings are becoming more minimalist and this is no doubt because my taste in art has shifted over the last couple of years. It has taken me a while to learn to truly enjoy modern art rather than enjoying it just because I know it is important. I think that the majority of art education that we get in grade school ensures that we will never enjoy art as grownups. Technical skill alone is praised while the meaning and emotion evoked are not. Because of this, modern art looks like a degradation of technical skill to many people; A less accurate recreation of a scene.
However, art was always a representation rather than a recreation. If a bird can be represented by two penstrokes, could that be superior to a bird rendered with two thousand penstrokes? Possibly, because the simpler bird will become whichever bird the viewer remembers if the scene is evocative of a memory for them. This means that specific pieces of art will resonate with a limited audience and that audience’s enjoyment will be more potent when the details are restrained to leave room for their own experiences to fill in.
A room, walls plastered with yellowing handwritten notes, stirred by a single panning fan; vacant except for a glass case containing two porcelain heads of lettuce. This isn’t a recreation of anything I’ve ever seen, but the warm light, the fluttering of the notes and the dark contrast of the black framed case and lettuce are evocative of the elements of memories that were buried in my mind until I walked into that room. 

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