Friday, May 24, 2002

I have never quite "gotten" Modern Art.

So every visit to any major Art Museum usually carries two experiences for me. One where I marvel at the quality and insight of artist (usually this happens when I encounter a piece done before the 1900's). The second experience is usually where I stand back and marvel at "A Slit in a Canvas" or a rough painted brush stroke on a canvas and wonder, how the hell anyone can consider this art.

Some, like Jackson Pollock are responsible for beautiful designs that show some level of transcendance at times, but in other pieces, like those that I witnessed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art about a month ago, one is faced with something that could easily have been painted by a child at a spin art booth, at some parking lot carnival.

Last night Amy and I watched Pollock-the movie. I had long anticipated seeing the film because the local Cinema Art house showed the trailer for the it over a period of six months B.J. (before Joseph) when we were still able to attend movies in a theater. I was not dissapointed.

Pollock the movie brought out something that I have long suspected about modern art--it is not transcendant. It is indeed a mess. But it is the mess, that is our lives without God or at least the mess that occurs when there is not some sense that there is a purpose to life.

Pollock's life with the peaks and valleys probably is mirrored in his art which at times screams with color that hints at hope in the midst of the chaos but at other times is drawn of "drips" of a dark that speaks of a gloomy void.

There is no doubt that Pollock was a "great" artist whose paintings reflect the age in which he lived--unfortunately the age in which we still live. Art imitates life. Whereas art from previous eras reflects "the something" subtly hidden in all of nature--from a piece of fruit, to the shade of a tree, to the glory of a human face; modern art reflects its absence.

Pollock said, at least in the movie, that his art reflected his inner life. I think that is a brilliant insight into modern art. When I look at an empty canvas with a slit in it (Milwaukee Museum of Art) something of the inner life (or rather the lack of inner life) of the artist is revealed (not to mention the curator of the museum). Pollock's alcoholism and inner rage shine forth in his art--but through it all there is a glimmer of "order" that presents itself as an invitation "that it doesn't have to be this way". Therein lies the beauty and the genius.

For more on Pollock visit this site. It is amazing how closely Ed Harris resembles the "real" Pollock. Also visit Amy's blog for an interesting item on the woman who died because of Pollock's alcoholic and suicidal last drive.