For some time, I’ve been twisting my brain inside out, trying to appreciate trends in modern art. A recent article in Vanity Fair, suggests my struggles have been in vain. According to author A. A. Gill, what I need to understand about the new form of expression is that understanding requires, “an art moderator – an explainer, a guide, a mentor.” (“Frieze Until Numbness Sets In,” by A. A. Gill, Vanity Fair, January 2014 pg. 45.) Apparently, in the modern world, art is neither good or bad unless those deemed to be experts form a majority consensus. The sensibilities of artist and the patron no longer matter.
Of course, in attempting to explain this modern aesthetic , I’m already guilty of having misled my readers. To be honest, notions of good and bad art are almost passé. “…skill, or application or craft, or ability” is no longer the point of art. (Ibid. pg. 45.) Today, it’s all about concept. “An artist is someone who thinks about art.” (Ibid. pg 45). In other words, patrons are advised to look for ideas that transcend time. The mode of this expression, whether it is executed well or poorly, is of no importance. Concept, pure and shining in mind of a majority of art moderators drives the market now. I use the word market advisedly but correctly. Apparently primary in a patron’s mind is whether or not the pieces he or she buysare a secure investment.
Passion, spirituality, even rebellion, if I understand the new standard, are forms of emotional baggage and without value. The great masters, measured by this new yard stick, would, of course, have little significance, except as the bones upon which the new art attempts, precariously, to stand.
For me, the market is a sad evolutionary phase after centuries of artists who struggled to expose truth. But who am I to stand in the way of progress? Let these modernist, with their entourage of moderators and investor-patrons, have their brief hour upon the stage. Yet I confess, a mischief overtakes me, and I feel compelled to point out that these current aficionados may have painted themselves into a corner. If art is no more than concept, devoid of passion and of skill, then those who worship at its alter might be standing in the wrong place. The temple best suited to adore pure concept is not one where artists dwell. That house belongs to mathematicians. Let patrons eager to invest in concept buy equations and sit at the feet of Hawking or Einstein.
Which poses a question in my mind. What, I wonder, would be that asking price for E=MC2?
(Courtesy of caj.ca)