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Another post of some writer talking about art in general is probably the last thing that the world needs, but that has never kept anyone from writing a blog post before, and it sure as fuck isn’t going to stop me now.

You’d think that after spending most of my late teens and all of my adult life hanging around other artists and writers that I’d be about to launch into a moving tale about some time when I had a heart-to-heart with another creator. NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. Like so many things in my life, this learning experience was a result of me being a little shit.

I was in middle school, and probably about 12, and taking seventh-grade art. In that class, we would dutifully work on drawing and shading techniques, spend hours with rulers trying to get three point perspective right, and look at famous paintings. (Of course, I drew floating 3D text that said “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE” over the X-Files symbol, y halo thar late 90s.)

So, here’s where I admit that about 99% of all abstract art I looked at as a kid was completely lost on me. I was like IF THERE ARE NO PEOPLE IN IT THEN WHAT IS THE POINT??????????????

One day, I came home from school, pissy, as usual, and went off on a tearing rant about one piece of art or another that I thought was completely stupid. I was possibly talking about Jackson Pollock’s drip painting, but most likely I was reacting to Mark Rothko’s “Orange And Yellow” which our seventh grade art teacher had shown us while explaining that it had sold for millions and millions of dollars.

"Orange And Yellow" - Mark Rothko - 1956

“Orange And Yellow” – Mark Rothko – 1956

I ranted to my father about it. After all, I was smart and clearly knew what good art was, so obviously he would agree with my outrage. People pay millions of dollars for two squares!? TWO SQUARES!? Here I was, slaving away with a set of cheap pencils, getting graphite all over my fingers and hands trying to make a photorealistic drawing of my ragged old sneaker, and some dude paints a couple of rectangles!? And that painting is worth more money than I could ever imagine having, EVER? RIDICULOUS!

“I mean,” I said, “it’s not like that’s hard! ANYBODY could do that. Even I could do that!”

My father looked at me, and all he said was:

“Ah, but you didn’t.

Originally published at Everything I do is SO fucking amazing that sparks are going to shoot out of your eyes.. You can comment here or there.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 4th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
And you actually probably couldn't! Try it; it's harder than you think.

Somewhat related: Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done That is a fun book about odd art pieces.
Oct. 4th, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know I couldn't now, and certainly couldn't have then. I suspect that explaining why I couldn't would have soared over my head at the time, though. I wasn't able to recognize anything in art beyond basic illustration and the shapes of things.

But the impression was made: nobody gives a fuck about the art that someone could make, artistic potential is meaningless (and as you point out, often illusory as well.)
Oct. 4th, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)
Your dad's answer is classic.

It's weird -- I often find myself defending modern and conceptual art against people who get all "that's not art!" ranty, but I still don't really like most mid-century abstract minimalism.

I mean, I think a detail of a typical Pollock painting and the Seattle Gum Wall would be pretty much indistinguishable from each other, except the painting probably smells better.
Oct. 6th, 2013 09:26 pm (UTC)
Considering what Pollock put into his paintings, they probably don't smell better.

I find myself in the same boat most of the time. However, I do find that Pollock's best splash paintings are absolutely sublime. Most of them were experiments, and he even lamented that while he was trying to put a great deal of skill and thought into them, he often couldn't figure out which ones were good or not. He waffled between feeling like a revolutionary and feeling like a hack (probably due to being bipolar). So, while the art is subject to the regular subjectivity of the beholder, it also didn't have a terribly good filter before being unleashed on the world. So there are probably a larger number of bad Pollock paintings out there than those of other artists...

Edited at 2013-10-06 09:27 pm (UTC)
Oct. 7th, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC)
Interesting! I actually don't know anything at all about him -- I think there was a biopic a while back but I didn't watch it.

Have you ever read about modern art as CIA anti-communist propaganda?

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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