I recently had an opportunity to spend a couple of days in DC and visit the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art museums. As a designer I have a hateful relationship with modern art. I believe a lot of it horrendous and benefits from inflammatory press releases, gallery/museum curators looking to make a name for themselves and slow news cycles.
i don’t need three paragraphs to tell what i should see in a piece of art. it should be able to stand on it’s own, make me pause and think. maybe it’s an underlying societal problem, everything has to be given to us, we can no longer think for ourselves and art as a reflection of society is heading down that path.
Someone pointed out to me that I should say I dislike museums/galleries as opposed to modern art itself because they choose what is presented. But conversely if all they have to present is crap then what are they supposed to do?
But based on my experience I think a lot of what passes for modern art is lazy. There’s a lot of slap this together and get it out the door and make it controversial, make attract attention and we’ll be rich/famous in our lifetime. While at the museum, I came across a sign. Now aside from the video installations none of the other pieces in the museum had this kind of preamble associated with it and unsurprisingly it was by far the worst piece in the place.
I’ve had an opportunity to experience both the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern. The former left me with a feeling of awe and inspiration, while I departed the latter before I was removed for running commentary. It’s been almost a decade since I’ve been to either and while I can’t tell you about any of the trite shit that Tate should have just kept in storage, I do remember coming around the corner to see Joseph Wright’s The Blacksmith. I’d post a photo but you can’t get the feeling of warmth that almost emanates off the original painting. That painting didn’t a press release or explanation, it stops you and draws you in.
As the old adage goes, I may not know art, but I know what I like. I’ve included a gallery of stuff that I saw and liked at the American Art Museum.