i volunteer for a local art gallery. we take artwork into school classrooms and discuss it with children. we always ask the kids to tell us different types of art that you can find in an art gallery. they generally tell us that they've seen paintings, photographs and sculptures. sometimes you get those random answers and someone says something like "i once saw a big hose and there was a bunny behind it." and you just know that they've seen some hardcore contemporary art installation. it's always really fun and we try to make them feel comfortable around art.
but yesterday a young boy raised his hand and said "at an art gallery you see a picture of a squiggle that costs a million dollars. and you see that at almost every gallery even though it's just a squiggle or something. it doesn't make sense." i think i responded with something really blase like "well, aren't they clever to have thought of something so simple that made them so rich!"
but inside i was feeling a mixture of indignation...and sadness. indignation because i couldn't really say anything in defense of modernism. what am i going to do? argue with a ten year old? but mostly i felt sad because childhood is a time to enjoy art without being skeptical of it. to look at a giant painting, or a mixed media work, or a wicked close-up photograph and go "whooooaaa, cool!!"
and with that, i leave you with some controversial very expensive artworks to enjoy (or not?).
lucio fontana. concetto spaziale, attese. via.
ellsworth kelly. white diagonal II. via.
jackson pollock. no.14 (gray). via.
(perhaps this is the type of piece my young friend was referring to?)
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