Friday, December 31, 2004

I don't know art....

I'm here in London, and it's amazing by the way--so much to do and a great place--and I've been to the Tate Modern. So what's up wtih conceptual art? I have some major issues. Is the art world becoming just a conversation with itself, or between artists and critics? I've been trying to work this through. So much time I feel like I'm being told what an emotional experience the artist had, or what everything is supposed to symoblize, when all I see is, say, three floursescent lights on a wall.

Now I know I am sounding like a philistine, but is it just that I would like to be able to have my own experience without feeling I need an art critic or historian to tell me what it is? I looked at Yves Klein's IDK Blue 79, which is blue. Only blue. And the tag said something about how he was obsessed with these colors, this particular color that he created. And then the tag says how it is a testament to freedom and breakinbg boundaries, blah blah blah. But I just see blue. A very nice and great blue, but still. I feel perhaps all I am interfacing with is the artist's obsession. And being told what to think, or how important it is without feeling anything myself. It's all about idea.

On the other hadn, I love Barbara Kreuger, who is all about idea. But there is a way for me to have my own experience without a book or an historical position. That all just makes the art feel like a closed club. And that's slightly annoying.

This was thrown in relief after seeing the National Gallery and the British museum. The British Musuem, with its incredible Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek art illustrates how vital art was to all of these cultures. Even though it's a more natural history bent, it's breathtaking. The Assyrian five legged winged lions, with cunieform bands, were astounding. And perhaps we see them as art now, but they all had a specific purpose--to guard, warn, tell history, worship, etc. Perhaps that's what we've lost in art and now it explores only the individual.

Seeing the National Gallery as well was incredible, even slightly overwhelming, with so many masterpieces in one place.

Side story: I saw the most homoerotic Sebastian painting, which was situated on a side of the room that was being blocked off for kid's instruction. Kind of funny to see that painting with all of these children below it. There was Sebastian, being lazily hit with arrows by a group of mne standing in easy-hipped positions, and in the foreground was one of them bent over, with pink tights and a broad back, reloading his arrow. Indeed. The ass was lightly wrapped in a scarf, like a small Burberry plaid type. It was so outlandish. I loved it, and wish I could've gotten over to see the artist. But there was sex in the fifteenth century, apparently. Wow.

So the National Gallery was stunning in it's scope, from 12th century to 18th/19th. And you could see how art moved from worship to the personal. There is much more to write about, and that gallery in particular, but that will have to wait, as I have to head off with friends to Victoria and Albert. Happy New Year!

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