“The only way to say what abstract art is, is to say what it is not.” Ad Reinhardt (from The Painter’s Keys)
The work of two very different blog posts jumped out this week for what each represented. Bloggers Elena Caravela and JF of Close to Eighty unintentionally demonstrated the past and the future of today’s art. One told the story of where art in the Twentieth Century has come from. The other is the representation of where art is going.
Where art has come from was not the actual purpose of the post by blogger JF of Close to Eighty.com. JF posted links to two fun art quizzes. One was asking the question of whether viewers could tell if an artwork was by a famous artist or by an ape. The other was art by a famous artist or a toddler? It was surprisingly difficult to tell which was which. Follow JF’s link to see if you can tell which is which. Both quizzes are very good examples of the art of the twentieth century. And the art world wonders where their followers went. Why pay top dollar for art that can just as easily be made by your neighbor’s toddler. There may be more to the art of the last century but does it matter if the viewers can’t tell what’s made in the studio and what’s made at the zoo?
Elena Caravela posted a painting. The Crossing, from a series she has been working on, exploring the theme of Blood and Vapor. What struck me so profoundly was the depth of emotion so evident in the painting. Two children are in a boat on what looks to be a terrifying journey. The painting immediately brought to mind the stories I had heard of Cuban refugees risking all to get to the shores of freedom. The painting could have multiple levels of meaning to different people. The important point is the depth of feeling and meaning communicated. No one will doubt it was painted by a living breathing adult human with emotional depth.
Art of the twentieth century didn’t care if people felt anything or not. The artists likely didn’t care either. There is very little there to connect with deeper human emotions. Art appears now headed toward connecting with people again. It delves into different layers of the experience of living. When we look at art we want to feel something on some level. We want to look at a piece of art and say, “Yes!” that makes me feel X, Y, or Z. We don’t want to say, “Did your toddler do that?
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