One of the great things about working at Phaidon is that we come across so many differing points of view and amazing things going on in the visual arts (on which note, look out for a video of a speech by curator Bob Nickas we'll be posting later today).
Occasionally though among the academic research we come across a thought that’s so simply and eloquently put that it pulls us up in our tracks. Last night we found this view of art on the blog Ramblings Of An Artist run by an anonymous Jordanian graphic artist. She was commenting on a post on her Facebook page by a friend that read: “The reason people don’t understand modern art is because they’re walking into the tail end of a 30,000 year old conversation.”
She picks up the conversation . . . . “I read that, and my brain just fell into place. I am not surprised that most people don’t understand it, because to take away something other than pure aesthetic value requires a lot of research, a lot of knowledge, a lot of understanding, that most people simply don’t have the time for. Most folks’ perception of what “art” is is limited to a picture or a painting hanging on a wall, or a sculpture sitting on a pedestal. That’s what people understand, and that’s how they’ve understood it for probably centuries.
"There’s so much that has happened though, in this century that has served to shape, and re-shape and restructure the art world, to the point where it’s completely unrecognisable to a good 99% of the present day enthusiasts. Many will pretend to have caught on, for fear of looking dumb in front of their friends who are also just pretending to have caught on. Many will reject the recent changes outright and cling fast onto the classical model, touting an elitist model of what art is or what they think it should be, at least. Then there are those who are striving and struggling hard to make all of this make sense in context, and building a real, genuine appreciation for art as it exists now, and art history.
"Not all art is pretty, nor is it easy to understand. To me, art mostly opens doors for communication. You don’t like a piece, then try to understand why. Why does it disturb you, scare you, or make you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t get what the piece is, then talk to someone about it. Read the description, ask questions and don’t be scared to not 'get' it. Not all art is supposed to be gotten by you alone. Art can’t communicate the same thing to each person. It’s a personal experience you have with each art piece that makes art so special. Enjoy it for what it is, and what it gives you, and stop trying to simply get it, to get it. Art is too magical for that.”
The blog reminds us of a much loved John Baldessari video we had on heavy rotation last year in which the artist expressed similar sentiments. If you're looking for some clarity and insightful wisdom The Art Museum is the perfect way to start making sense of art - be it on cave wall or New York gallery one. And to get to grips with the differences between modern and contemporary art there's nothing better than Defining Contemporary Art.