Friday, 15 August 2008

Art for art's sake

Do Ho Suh's Staircase V
Every so often, the debate about the merits, or otherwise, of modern art kicks off, as in this intelligent piece by Katherine Whitehorn. Currently, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is showing a 20-year retrospective of the always-interesting Tracey Emin which has, predictably, thrown up the usual suspects, moaning and wailing that "it's just an unmade bed". Now I can't make it to Emin's show in Edinburgh but I have just been to the Royal Academy of Art's summer show, which includes a room curated by Emin (which carries an 18 certificate, amusingly), and I can say that her room was the most thought-provoking, and not just for the zebra mounting a women or the naked woman hula-hooping with barbed wire (although that was strangely hypnotic). We followed Sunday's trip to the Royal Academy with another trip to the Hayward Gallery to see more modern art in the form of their Psycho Buildings show... which was fantastic, visually stunning and so easy to become immersed in. I can't recommend it enough, so hurry, it's only on until the end of the month (and whilst you're there, why not nip into the Saison Poetry Library too?). I bet you don't have as lovely a meal as we had afterwards though (and I'm not going to tell you where we ate because if the secret gets out, and it gets over-crowded, well, it'll be ruined...)

One stock response of many people when faced with modern art is "I don't call that art!" Well okay then, what do you call art? If you consider art appreciation in terms of the effect a piece has, its context, techniques used and its intended meaning, then surely anything that puts a tick against some, or all, of those boxes could be considered art? Okay, so the effect it has on you might be to make you turn your nose up or scoff, but it's still an effect...

The other standard reaction to modern art is "I could do that." Fine. But the fact is, you haven't. You haven't had the idea. The creative spark has not twitched and flickered within you, has not caught alight. When it comes to modern art it seems that those that can, do, and those that can't criticise.

No comments:

Post a Comment