I belong to an art club and one of the reasons for this is the discussions that arise during coffee breaks etc.
In this instance we were talking about the programme for the club for next year and how to make it more varied. A lot of members paint traditional work, landscapes and portraits. There are a few abstract painters and sculptors but we felt we don't always cater for these. We looked at ways of adding modern art practices into our meetings either as workshops or demonstrations.
This made me think: What is Modern art? The first definition I found didn't help:
Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860's to the 1970's, and denotes the styles and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art.
A second definition did not help much either:
Challenging the notion that art must realistically depict the world, some artists experimented with the expressive use of colour, non-traditional materials, and new techniques and mediums. One of these was photography, whose invention in the 1830's introduced a new method for depicting and reinterpreting the world. The Museum of Modern Art collects work made after 1880, when the atmosphere was ripe for avant-garde artists to take their work in new, unexpected, and “modern” directions.
Again a lot of this is dated, I visit a lot of exhibitions and artists seem to be desperately looking for something new. The public are no longer shocked by a pile of bricks or an unmade bed. Photography has been seen as a new medium but dates back to the 1930's. I have seen a number of photographic exhibitions and find that few impress me and it vexes me how one photographer is often considered better than another. With the modern camera numerous pictures can be taken and I have seen some superb results but are these art!
I have seen many installations like these above. The first one reminds me of when I let my year 11 stack the chairs unsupervised at the end of a lesson. Entering a room where everything has been painted creates quite a spectacle, but again, it is not a new idea.
The first image where sweets have been made as large sculptures has been around for a while and whilst amusing is not a novel idea.The second one links in nicely with several beaches I have visited where people have made sculptures from the pebbles and I quite like that idea of leaving something behind. Here people are enjoying a sense of the place without possibly any thought for the art they are leaving for people to see.
These are images I researched on the internet. The idea of a blank canvas has been a student joke for many years. Using work by Mondrian to create a sculpture is effective but in my opinion this is not an original idea. The idea of splash painting is another example where someone else's idea has been used. Both of these can create interesting art work but I would not consider them'a modern art'.
A modern concept takes modern art in an interesting direction. Here a skip on a London street is used as an exhibition space. Artists are invited to show their work in this and previews and viewings are held.
Skip Gallery was created by co-founders and creative partners, Catherine Borowski and Lee Baker, two London-based artists who take the mundane and everyday and try to re imagine them in new situation.
Artist Gavin Turk has delivered his own tongue-in-cheek piece for Skip Gallery, in London's Hoxton Square.
His work at the pop-up gallery "questions the very nature of a skip as a place to dispose of rubbish, and our relationship to what we choose to throw away".
He put an empty packet of Skips Crisps in as his contribution.
Who says modern art is rubbish? Turner-nominated artist David Shrigley's new work is housed inside a skip parked in London's Hoxton Square. Discover more about Look at This in a short film by Canvas Arts.
Are these just a gimmick to create attention? Do they portray any special artistic spirituality? Will they stand the test of time? What will future generations think about them? Or will they just fade into obscurity as have many other similar 'new' ideas have?
I suppose the answers to these questions depend on your own personal perspective and thoughts about what modern art in general is.
After all this I am no nearer to finding an answer. Throughout art history, artists have reflected on other people's work and have been influenced by it in different ways. The main difference is that the art they produced had a new vision. I think many artists are finding it harder to come up with a fresh movement or theme.
I recently went to the Lowry Art Gallery at Salford Quays, to view their present exhibition and this has given me an interesting concept to think about; 'Art in the digital age'.
I will look at this in my next blog.