Art of the past is so boring!
I always zoned out during art history. I just wasn’t interested. All those names and dates, formal artwork. Maybe it was the teacher or just me? But before mid 19th century I felt it was fusty, I liked the Pre-Raphaelites. Mainly through spending hours at Manchester Art Gallery. Van Gogh interested me. But then the 20th Century stuff was just playing, wasn’t it?
All that dripping paint and squares and splodges of colour. I remember going around the Whitworth Gallery with my art teacher when I was about 14. She was enthusing about the colours and textures. The particular one we were looking at had all the colours and texture of vomit – I’m not exaggerating. I could feel part of me wanting to understand it and share her enthusiasm. I think I might have managed it… But inside I was screaming “This is rubbish! Let me see some pictures, please! Something, anything, I can recognise.” As you can see, I’ve come a long way since then.
Art appreciation is a concept I’ve always struggled with. Surely if the art is any good, it shouldn’t need explaining? The meaning should invade your mind like some type of telepathic connection between the artist and the viewer. Basically, I like what I like, but I don’t always know why. I do like modern art, just not ALL of it. I must like it right? Otherwise why do abstracts like “Conformity here?”
Aware that this attitude will not help my own ambitions in the art world, I have seized the bull by the horns! Engaging in personal study- art books and BBC 4 mainly, with a healthy smattering of internet and art galleries when schedules permit. The aim to work out what on earth there is in this “modern art” business. And how my art relates to it. My art is important to me, I need to grow and develop. But it’s hard to grow if you have no roots.
This week I found a handy little book “How to survive modern art” by Susie Hodge. It’s an idiots guide to art movements of the last 120 years. Idiot equalling me in this instance!
The format is this:-
A bit about the movement (main theories and aspirations), examples of artist’s work in the style, move to next genre!
Fab!!!! No waffling on. I learn best with visual aids.
What have I learnt so far? Describing my painting at the top of the post, I think I can now say it is Op art meets tie dye with a bit of Jackson Pollock thrown in for good measure! What do you think? Maybe the Jackson Pollock is a bit much?
In addition to the book, the BBC are running an excellent series on BBC 4 called “Modern Masters” It’s been an eye-opening experience, and I’m finally beginning to get what the fuss is about. Last week they looked at Andy Warhol, this week it was the turn of Henri Matisse. I’ve found them quite fascinating. (The BBC usually keep them up for a little while so you may be able to catch them on iplayer but the named links should work for a while.)
So where am I know with my art education? I think I’m appreciating it more, yes, yes…
And understanding what they were trying to do?
Yes, that too… But I still don’t like conceptual art! (she mutters in her best petulant-teenager’s voice).