I know that I’m going to get into some trouble with some people as a result of this post.
Yesterday, my family visited an art fair where more than 100 artists displayed a wide variety of art. One of the artists, an adult man, offered the following abstract paintings:
The painting on the left was offered for $3,200 and the one on the right for $1,300. I don’t “get” much modern art. I never have. It amazes me that there is a market for much of it. As you might correctly guess, I wasn’t tempted to buy either of these paintings.
Now, consider the following article from Salon.com: “Here’s looking at you, “Kid”: Is 4-year-old Marla Olmstead a painting prodigy or the instrument of a hoax? “My Kid Could Paint That” The documentary “asks fascinating questions about art, family and journalistic ethics.” This article concerns a new documentary about a young girl (Marla) who became a modern art phenom. At least things were going well until the maker of that documentary, Amir Bar-Lev, started digging deeply:
As New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman discusses in the film, Marla’s story appealed to two contradictory popular prejudices. First of these is the idea of prodigal artistic talent as a lottery prize handed out to random toddlers by God. Second is the notion that modern art (at least in its abstract or nonfigurative guises) is a pseudo-intellectual con game that has no standards and conveys no meaning, so the apparent success of a 4-year-old debunks the whole enterprise.
I know that I’m not the first person to cry that the Emperor has no Clothes, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to cry out. I do wonder how far one could go as a modern artist with a pristine resume, assuming that the abstract art you presented as your own was actually art created by non-artists. For instance, how easily or often could the scribbles and doodles of children pass as the creations of an adult “artistic genius?” To look at it another way, imagine that a traditional painting (e.g., Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”) was accidentally destroyed. Compare the pain the world would feel to the pain it would feel at the loss of a piece of abstract art prominently displayed in one of the world’s modern art museums.
To make it clear, I’m not dissing all modern art. There is some that consists 99% of unchannelled energy as opposed to creative effort.
I look forward to viewing the aboved-described documentary. To listen to Bar-Lev’s podcast regarding his video, go here.