Image: Richard P J Lambert

Arts Column – Why modern art is rubbish

Modern art was once the preserve of artists wishing to make a statement, artists who wished to go against the traditionalist aesthetic works of past generations. Great artists such as Matisse used materials in innovative ways to create new styles of work that made a big impression. He, like many others worked on the motto, ‘an artist must never be a prisoner’.

However, after years of visiting the Tate, I have finally decided that I just don’t get modern art anymore. I am worried that the artists of the twenty first century are far from being a prisoner but rather are taking on the role of outlaw. Art is increasingly, it seems, becoming a competition between artists to see who can make the wackiest piece, transcend artistic boundaries and leave viewers with the most warped facial expression. Art is no longer produced from creativity but from a desire to deviate.

On seeing the recent Turner exhibition, I can’t say that I was impressed by the offerings. The works tended towards the video arts, most of which tried to offer a conceptual view on the world; a view which was stacked with intended individuality and in reality just lacked substance. Particularly terrible were Tris Vonna-Michell’s videos; one which tried to trace a family story in Berlin alongside a mismatched photo montage whilst the other was a poorly recorded (and quite frankly strange) video of the artist shouting random phrases. Even the winning piece was artistically dire. Yes, Duncan Campbell had produced a nice enough documentary on the treatment of artefacts at the British Museum, but it would have been better suited to an ad break on the Discovery Channel, rather than the winner’s podium at the Turner prize.

Modern artists should be looking to create pieces which truly offer a poignant perspective on 21st century life. If this means picking up a paintbrush and pallet, instead of delving into mediums such as video then so be it. After all, comparing the audience attention at the recent Rembrandt exhibition and the Turner prize, I’m sure it’s not surprising that Rembrandt managed to engage, whereas the Turner visitors showed nothing short of apathy for the work.

Perhaps I just haven’t come to appreciate the artistic output of the teens yet. But, in its current form, I can’t say that I ever will. Modern artists are outlaws, and need to be restrained before they corrupt the artistic sphere irrevocably.

Comments (1)

  • richard pj lambert

    Hi Connor, found your blog because of my picture on top.

    Whilst I completely understand your dislike of video as an art piece (I do too – it usually lacks emotion and feels uncrafted) but as Grayson Perry says “you don’t have to like it all”.

    Also, art history wise, the period of Modern Art only stretches to the end of WW2 (maybe early 70s depending on who you ask). Contemporary art is what you are describing in this blog (like the Louise Bourgeois my picture).

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