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Modern art and the ick factor Modern art and the ick factor

Letters From Home

Life looks at infmom / infmom looks at life

me vs. modern art


I did very well in art classes in high school, and went into college with the intention of majoring in art. I survived the 8am art history classes (80% slides in a darkened room) and I survived the introductory classes where the main goal seemed to be to suck up to the professor just right. It had been my intention to specialize in printmaking and jewelry.

Then I found out that if I did that, my advisor would be the obnoxious prof who’d wanted all the intro students to suck up.

So I changed my major to anthropology and history, and never looked back. Well, not till years later, when I wondered if I shouldn’t have tried to stick it out in art. The thing is, I wasn’t (or thought I wasn’t) good at drawing, or painting, or ceramics, or any of the other specialties, so I thought I had taken the path of least resistance by moving on. The down side, of course, is that I no longer had to do any actual art, and that’s the kind of thing that if you don’t practice, you can’t do it as well any more.

I have a sketchbook from the Pharaohs of the Sun exhibit several years ago. I sketched some of the statues, as best I could. I looked at those sketches the other day and they were terrible. Amateur artwork. But then again, if you don’t sketch anything for 30 years, you kinda forget how it’s done.

At any rate, I never stopped looking at art. F’zer and I went to museums when we could, and I always enjoyed reading articles about art in various magazines. Naturally, as with all things where there is a vast range of techniques and talents, there were some artworks I liked and some I didn’t.

Yesterday, we went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where we’ve had a membership for several years, to see the members-only preview of the new Eli Broad building that houses the collection of modern art.

I enjoyed being out with my husband, of course, and it was nice to have the run of a brand-new, three-story building full of artwork. But I doubt I’ll ever set foot in the place again.

Am I an old fuddy-duddy? Could be. I certainly liked being able to see some very famous Andy Warhol works up close. And there were some marvelous chrome sculptures that I thought were absolutely delightful, and one wall-filling collage of china dishes and paint that was amazing. But I just don’t happen to think that a glass case holding a dead lamb in a formalin solution is “art.” It made me queasy, to tell you the truth, and I got out of that gallery as fast as I could. And there were the usual “scribbles and random blotches on canvas” panels, and “here’s a stretched piece of canvas that is just painted one flat color” and other stereotypical examples of the genre.

It’s a shame, really, because it’s things like that that make people stay away, when they could be appreciating the talent of people who create, say, giant chrome sculpbures that look like balloon animals, or a wave-form sculpture made of massive panels of rusted steel that filled up two rooms and made one marvel at what it took to create it.

Too many pieces where the ick-factor rules supreme dull anyone’s appreciation. They sure did mine.

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Author: infmom

Otherwise known as Infamous Mom.

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