Modern Art

storm

Pelican
Gold Member
I had a talk today with a philosopher about the tenets of modern art, especially the idea of beauty.

I was struck by the fact that the theory requires a logical fallacy to make sense. However, the man I was talking to is not an expert on the topic. Is anyone here a philosopher? Is a rigorous justification for the modern art understanding of beauty available?
 

wi30

Ostrich
Gold Member
More or less anything can be considered "modern art".

Two dudes banging eachother(Brokeback Mountain)? Modern art.
Feminist carrying her 'rape matress'? Modern art.
A famous artist drawing squiggly lines? Modern art.

The problem is that without standards, the community falls to the lowest common denominator.

Literally anything can be considered modern art.
 
This is a topic I take personal interest in, I used to detest modern art until I begun researching it. Now I only detest most of it, which includes many of my own creations as I expiramented with it.

To simplify the field into a duality you have Expressionism and Geometry. Expressionism is 'muh feelings' spread onto a canvas or the vast majority of performance art. Feminine art, no use to me. Geometric art descends from Cubism. The founding principle was eye-rolling over all the effort made to create the illusion of three dimensions on a 2D plain. Where the cubists expiramented with decoding 3D objects into 2D(Think unfolding oragami) later artists saw that as wasted effort.

The artists I prefer are Malevich, Mondarin, and de Stael. There is a mystique to this art, and many of the arts in these movements were deep into mysticism. These artists had a generally orderly logical process for creating their paintings of which weren't ever fully explained. The art really doesn't require explenation and doesn't feel the need to prove it's worth. Exploration of concepts vs "art therapy." Cathartic art frustrates me in all its forms(contemporary art is more open with its display of such.)

Honestly I don't know if the concepts at play are per say modern. Simple art is just following basic principles of design over ascetic showmanship. Think the design of a banner or flag, it does what's required of it.
 

storm

Pelican
Gold Member
KC,

The understanding I have of beauty as understood in modern art is the following.

Object do not have an inherent beauty.

Beauty is defined to be what you create from the object upon perceiving it.

Moreover, this beauty actually changes once someone tells you, for example, about some hereto unknown feature of the object. By changing your perception of the object you change its beauty [to you].

But then aren't we instead observing not the object but instead something different, specifically {the object + the interpreter} ?

If we allow this, then an object's beauty can be any number of things, in theory we could argue that it could be anything. Suppose we make such an argument for each object. Then the word 'beauty' is not meaningful aka does not exist. But we know beauty exists, contradiction.

I must be making some mistake with my reasoning because this just does not make sense to me. Maybe if I drink more I will get it.
[img=400x300]http://www.drinktails.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/whiskey.jpg[/img]
 
As far as that goes I believe you're talking the difference between beauty and empathy. Beauty is either inate or recognized in something which is well engineered. The second is generally considered 'elitist' in art as it requires a knoweldge of what was being attempted and the ability to reason if the artist did what they set out to do.

Empathy is when things click and you find yourself of like mind with the artist; I'm inclined to believe this is what you are discussing. Perhaps symbolism is at play with artists who in all their 'individuality' use their own language of symbols. Naturally their works make no sense without their explenation. A cheap trick to have you connect with their art, rather than being one of the educated you have to be initiated. And the artist makes himself 'indespensibe.' You can't figure out this art alone, being that it's not timeless it loses its worth in my eyes.
 
Anyone interested in this topic should go read this webpage: https://web.archive.org/web/20130202053242/https://www.artrenewal.org/pages/faq.php

(they have since re-organized their site, but I always felt like that page mostly nailed what "art" really is, and its intrinsic connection to truth and beauty)

This place is the Art Renewal Center, and they have some excellent mission statements and (privately) support a lot of great artists.

I have always had a theory that the first generation of "modernists" in any field tend to do interesting work because they had a grounding in the traditional education of the craft, and they were almost exploding against boundaries that they had become familiar with. In short, they had ideas and the means to expound those ideas, and enough energy to go one step further to see what happened. Every generation after that loses the connection to the actual craft and just does whatever they feel like, leading to navel gazing shit. So the first generation of free jazz was really interesting and mostly good, but most jazz innovations after that (including most of fusion -- even the work of my beloved Miles Davis) was navel gazing poop. The first generation of American Abstract Expressionists was somewhat interesting (I have been held in awe by a few Pollock paintings somehow), but pretty much everything that came after it (including everything in galleries today that is not representational) is absolute garbage. Nearly every installation, no matter how amusing it operates as a theme-park-ride type of distraction, is nowhere closer to art than the random puddle of vomit you step over on a main street early into the hours of a Sunday (full disclosure -- my work has been featured as an "art" installation in a few galleries).

I'll leave this thread with another quote from the Art Renewal Center that is not on the page I linked to above:

"We have been propagandized by modernism into believing that only those works that break boundaries, ignore standards, and show no interest in skill or technique can be truly "original" or "inspired." In fact originality of methods take precedence over all else. If something has been done before, or is derivative in any way of anything that was done before, it thereby loses value proportionate to those similarities. In such a "Through the looking glass" world, every would-be "artist" is placed in the untenable position of trying to create an entirely new art form in order to be considered relevant. The sheer glaring reality is that nothing could be more imprisoning, binding, restricting, chaining and shackling than the impossible limitations of modernism and post-modernism, that remove from the would-be artist every tool (including training) that could give him or her the ability to create great works of art. The simple truth is that each and every one of us (and I mean nearly every human being), is capable of thinking of something that has never been done before. Does that make it worth doing and the work of genius?

For example:

- I could carefully (with enough money) dig up an old bombed out tenement building in the Bronx, and have it transported to a special slab built for it in Central Park. Rope off the structure and aim lights at it at night and give it a title, and with enough pomp and circumstance think of twenty reasons why this is sheer brilliance and genius.
- I could boil the entrails of several different animals and then preserve them by imbedding them in clear plastic. I could then hang them from a mobile with similarly preserved body parts of cadavers, and have critics claim that this is the greatest artistic statement about the horrors of war since Guernica.
- I could imbed into the walls, ceiling and floors of a small room, pieces of neon lights, parts from broken machines and engines, and broken pieces of structural building materials like bricks, beams and cinder blocks. Then I could glue between everything millions of nails, nuts and bolts, and have clever writers and critics point out how this room (which could be installed at MOMA or the Guggenheim) is the quintessential statement of the effects of the industrial age on human psychology.

Well, those three ideas took all of 3 minutes to think of. MY GOD! This must mean I'm three geniuses rolled into one. Why, at this rate I could come up with more brilliant ideas for Modernism than all of the modernist geniuses put together, if I just would put aside a week or two."
 

Saga

Woodpecker
storm said:
Is anyone here a philosopher? Is a rigorous justification for the modern art understanding of beauty available?

I'm no philosopher, but it doesn't take a philosopher to know that no such justification is available because modern artists have no understanding of beauty. In fact, modern artists have always attempted to undermine the idea of beauty, and to present a false equivalence between beauty and ugliness. It is a cultural precedent for fat acceptance, and for all delusional SJW equalities that wish to erase excellence because they're incapable of achieving even mediocrity.

So instead of making beautiful works of art, modern "artists" create garbage and try to convince gullible, uncultured, over-educated dilettantes that their messy bed, or a cup of water on a shelf, or their feces is "beautiful" or "subversive" or whatever nonsense they come up with to sell their fraudulent work. Modern art isn't art, it's a joke, and after 100 years of monotonous nihilism it's not a particularly witty joke.

If we allow this, then an object's beauty can be any number of things, in theory we could argue that it could be anything. Suppose we make such an argument for each object. Then the word 'beauty' is not meaningful aka does not exist. But we know beauty exists, contradiction.

I must be making some mistake with my reasoning because this just does not make sense to me. Maybe if I drink more I will get it.

No, your reasoning has arrived at the correct conclusion, because it doesn't make sense to anyone, and that's by deliberate design. Trying to deny the meaning of beauty in art is as silly and futile as trying to deny the meaning of taste in cuisine, or speed in athletics...not only is it very meaningful, it's the entire purpose and point of the discipline.
 

storm

Pelican
Gold Member
Saga said:
storm said:
Is anyone here a philosopher? Is a rigorous justification for the modern art understanding of beauty available?

I'm no philosopher, but it doesn't take a philosopher to know that no such justification is available because modern artists have no understanding of beauty. In fact, modern artists have always attempted to undermine the idea of beauty, and to present a false equivalence between beauty and ugliness.

I have continued drinking and I suspect that it is more nuanced than that. What follows is my attempt at understanding it.

The argument is that beauty is actually related to experience as opposed to structure...

For example you might always bang out girls to the Weeknd. Listening to that soundtrack gives you an appreciation of the greater things in life. In the context of your perception, his soundtrack is beautiful.

Of course the man sings in falsetto. A strict analysis would show that the music is not beautiful.

But to you, as a guy who has banged out a lot of girls to the soundtrack, it is beautiful.

This I think is the argument being made by the modernists, and it does touch on some part of truth. I don't think we can discard it entirely because to me that music actually is beautiful in a way a soundtrack with identical characteristics lacks: its beauty is related to my experiences.

My argument with this reasoning is that we are not talking about how beautiful the music is anymore... we are, naively speaking, talking about some sort of appreciation of our experience in proximity to it...very different...

So then, the question is, to what extent can we talk about innate beauty vs beauty coupled with experiences? Is it even proper to call the latter beauty?

It is not as clear cut as we would like to think and I should like to see a rigorous argument.

Perhaps the greatest criticism I have of all of this modernist thought is this sort of cult of novelty they have... but that probably can be explained by pointing out that otherwise artists would not have jobs. Can you imagine if we actually at some point figured out what kind of art people actually like, rigorously, that people best like say baroque style paintings and architecture and everything else is objectively displeasing to the eye... 'innovators' would be considered extraneous... it seems to me that this actually happened and that modern art is sort of a racket design to keep 'innovative' artists employed. Some might argue that we never actually know we have a 'best' art.

I would like to see someone chime in who has reached that point of life where he has an appreciation for art more than other pleasures in the J.S.Mills sense. What value does art have to you?

KC, if that is the definition of empathy then it seems to support the 'cult of novelty' theory above. I wonder if maybe I was told the wrong definitions? Can you please give a formal definition of beauty?
 

Onto

Ostrich
Gold Member
I like modern art, but I think it's more representative of the feminine dimension of reality because it lacks the detailed form that classic art has. Before modern art you would need to actually draw well (form). Form is an aspect of the masculine, while matter is the feminine.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Modern art began and rose around the same time as Women's Suffrage/Feminism did.
 

Saga

Woodpecker
storm said:
The argument is that beauty is actually related to experience as opposed to structure...

That is a common notion, but I don't think it stands to reason. To start, it's worth remembering that the con-men in the story of the emperor's new clothes make exactly the same argument, that the appearance of the emperor's expensive "clothes" depends on the personal experience of each person, thereby tricking people into pretending to admire something that doesn't exist.

At its core, it's an argument that attempts to drag objective characteristics into the realm of subjective declaration, which in turn drains it of any meaning or discernment. In fact, it gets it backwards, for the argument assumes that beauty is a mere figment of sentiment, rather than the source of sentiment that we all know great art is. If you concede that art is capable of moving you, then you've already disproved the modernist assumption: artistic beauty affects your experience, not the other way around.

What was my prior experience with classic Mesoamerican culture before I first encountered Mayan painting? Almost nothing, but the beauty therein was undeniable nonetheless. If my personal experiences were the staid dictators of sense that modernists claim, then how could an aesthetic quite unknown to me be so evocative?

Subjectivity shouldn't be neglected, but it must be appreciated in its proper place: for instance, one might well value a certain dish because it recalls memories of childhood, but that's a poor basis to make a culinary analysis. The question is what tastes good and what doesn't, not what makes one particular person think of his grandma's kitchen.

Anyway, if subjectivity is the source of excellence, then why stop at art? Why not award sports championships to the team whose performance most resonates with the referee's life experience? Put in any context, the modernist paradigm breaks down into pure sophistry.
 
I am not formally trained, my definition of beauty I've developed myself. I also would claim that art will in general lean more toward appreciation from either sex. Women love their sentimental decorations and expression of emotion. Men lean toward form & usefulness. I'm at a point where I don't study feminine art and don't support it, the modern art world is dominated by it.

When I evaluate beauty I first start with if the art is fit for purpose. This I picked up from a treatise on beauty written in the 1600s of which the name escapes me. A straight column supporting a porch has the foundation of beauty. A curved column is naturally ugly as a boat with a hole in the hull. A 'revival' style house where columns are un-necessary for support is sentimental in nature. The motivation behind its constructio would determine if I appreciate it or not.

Next is identity, which I'd relate to empathy minus the emotional attachment. Have I reason to care about the artists purpose? Do they have one? Are they working against me or simply going for shock value? I count out most modern art here; as well as older artwork which I find irrelevant to my life. I'd more amniable to traditional works did I not have the historical concept of the slow cultural decline to where we stand today. I'm personally into 'new' ideas promoting a new culture(neither modernist or traditional really.)

Thirdly, is the work timeless or timely? In my view beautiful work either explores brank spanking new frontiers(technology/thought) or it transcends time by being based in grounded identity or concepts. Things beyond the ascetic. Think scientific theory, algorithmic design, or illusion. Shouldn't be something regulatable to a specific era unless the artist took a role in founding the concept at play.

Finally I ask if the work is riddled with the need to be novel. Art always builds on what came before, you craft a unique mixture of ideas based on your influences. It is generally obvious when art is simply rebelling and promoting someone's special snowflake dillusions. Enough of this kind of art has been refrenced above, this work is usually result of angst and anti-social tendancy.
 

Orion

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Modern art is purely and expression of individual character, therefore, of a persona. There is no transfer from top to down of an artistic idea. Hence, no matter how skilled modern artist is, his work always remains leveled to the sphere of ego. Every kind of art is some sort of individual expression, jerking off on your own image in a mirror.

Compare that to ancient art. Images, sculptures you see in ruins of ancient temples, images you see in Egyptian tombs. Every brick and every image and every shape seems like it comes from one same idea and inspiration. And guess what, authors are completely anonymous. Because that art has absolutely nothing to say about author. It's about a higher idea.

Switch to modern art. In a modern glass object, on a huge white wall somebody hangs a picture that represents whatever dissociated thought massively egoistic author had at the time of his "inspiration". They make a bunch of conclusions about who knows what since there is no possibility for them to deduce anything from that image whatsoever and throw a couple of comments about authors concerning whatever they thought they recognized from his individual character in the painting, which is completely irrelevant for... well everything, they rejoice, photograph it and go out to have a paper cup full of milk and third grade coffee.
 

Dionysus

Chicken
Orion said:
Modern art is purely and expression of individual character, therefore, of a persona.

I think this is a very profound statement, actually. Especially if you consider the implications of it...

What does it say about the individual character of an artist, if it is expressed in their "art" as, say, a giant buttplug, a urinal, a messy bed, or your own shit in a can?

On the other hand, it also implies that if one has a good character, that will be expressed in their art too. And indeed, I do think there are modern artists who actually made good art, even if it did ultimately express their own egos. But that was more so at the beginning of the modern art movement. These days the push to be "original" has gone so far, that barely anything shocks anyone any more (in the art world at least), so you either need to go completely overboard or be ironic.

Paul McCarthy:
44597fdb-a576-4925-8bea-f63d6baa86fc-2060x1236.jpeg

http://www.theguardian.com/artandde...-butt-plug-sculpture-paris-rightwing-backlash

Marcel Duchamp:
duchamp_fountain.jpg


Piero Manzoni:
piero_manzoni_merda_d_artista_d5584257h.jpg


Tracey Emin:
Emin-My-Bed.jpg


The idea for My Bed was inspired by a depressive phase in the artist's life when she had remained in bed for several days without eating or drinking anything but alcohol.[2] When she looked at the vile, repulsive mess that had accumulated in her room, she suddenly realized what she had ceated. Emin ardently defended My Bed against critics who treated it as a farce and claimed that anyone could exhibit an unmade bed. To these claims the artist retorted, "Well, they didn't, did they? No one had ever done that before."
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Bed


Compared to good modern art, that was able to express something more interesting or profound about the artist:

Vincent van Gogh:
374px-Van_Gogh_-_Country_road_in_Provence_by_night.jpg


Marc Chagall:
Chagall_IandTheVillage.jpg
 
Pomo artists (all, no surprise, government funded) are like the good-looking couple Woody Allen confronts in Annie Hall and asks what the secret is to their harmonious relationship...

Female: "Uh, I'm very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say."
Male: "And I'm exactly the same way."
 

Orion

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Dionysus said:
Orion said:
Modern art is purely and expression of individual character, therefore, of a persona.

I think this is a very profound statement, actually. Especially if you consider the implications of it...

What does it say about the individual character of an artist, if it is expressed in their "art" as, say, a giant buttplug, a urinal, a messy bed, or your own shit in a can?

On the other hand, it also implies that if one has a good character, that will be expressed in their art too. And indeed, I do think there are modern artists who actually made good art, even if it did ultimately express their own egos. But that was more so at the beginning of the modern art movement. These days the push to be "original" has gone so far, that barely anything shocks anyone any more (in the art world at least), so you either need to go completely overboard or be ironic.

I believe my first post was a bit messy.

I will paraphrase what Julius Evola said in his book "Ride the Tiger" concerning modern art.

He mentioned something about a specific mentality, that has a higher ideal as a reference point, instead of individual (your person as opposed to your being - being here applying to what is universal in your nature). That mentality, dedicates the same amount of time, concentration, effort into the work of art or craft for example, that is never to be displayed as he dedicates to one that will be presented to wider audience. Because his reference point isn't dissociated mass of individuals in which he combats for recognition of the size and reach of his ego. This explains why shock and confusion have come to prevail as motives in art, because that is one obvious and straightforward way to be noted, whenever you cannot appeal to that which people find pleasant.

Obviously modern art cannot and should not resemble ancient art since there is no reference point anymore that was there back then - regal power, divinity, order, hierarchy, sacred symbolism, scientific knowledge (not in modern pop science sense, but in ancient insight and true knowledge into properties of nature).

Hence, one today, can apply same spirit only if his reference points is beyond individual person, and hence, beyond contemporary institutions that are nothing but a mere extension of the spirit of the age of unleashed egoism. Hence, such art should refer to a deindividualized higher ideal, spiritual center that exist outside contemporary institutions.

Since I cannot myself think of any example because of my lack of knowledge and research into modern art, i can only cite the example that Evola himself used to present the idea of inspiring modern art, such as Nicholas Roerich's paintings:

Pink_Mountains-1680x1050.jpg

Nicholas-Roerich-Star-of-Mother-of-the-World.JPG

18261790.jpg


(his art is really stunning)
 
The above I would consider to be pictures but not necessarily art. I think the reason we have these discussions (this one plus the god thread) is because we have moved too far from the pure concepts. 'Art' has become something of its own, ie people will say it is an art not a science. That shows we think of art as something above logic, above techinicality, above correctness, praticality and usefulness.
 

Philonous

Sparrow
I thought I’d write a little about modern art, as I am a trained illustrator. However, as I wrote the thing out on my computer it quickly expanded into 5 pages—a thread in itself.

Suffice it to say, you have human institutions created around ideas that may or may not be human in origin. Some may be divine in origin. However, humans aren’t perfect (save for the Christ), and they make errors in their policies and administrative practices—their methods of human governance. The result is you get splits and schisms.

This denotes something more than “rebellion”. Mere rebellion suggests nothing but negation—getting a rise out of making oneself difficult, a rise out of seeing things torn down and destroyed.

That’s not necessarily what happened with modern art. Or not the only thing, I should say. Rather, you had groups of persons who honestly believed they into the realm of “discovery”, possible universals of the subconscious mind, modern alchemy. This is exhibited no better than by the abstract expressionist artist/theorist Wassily Kandinsky.

However, in capitalistic systems “art” becomes a commodity—people can and do make their living by creating it and selling it (I ought to know). And so you get these human remora fish—less noble souls who latch on to a potentially constructive movement and then disseminate vacuous forms of it, doing so for profit.

“Cubism” is an intellectually vacuous form of modern art. Nothing more than a novelty—try to make everything look 3D. This is actually called a “trompe l’oeli” and normally requires an artist skilled enough at academic painting to do photo realism—only cubism relies on a gimmick, namely, you paint the subject into cubes (however sloppily or hastily), and voila, it looks like a bunch of little paintings done in “three quarters view”.

Once that fad wore off in the 1930s nobody ever returned to it.

Furthermore, there were art movements that really were about nothing but negation—artists who weren’t trying to offer anything constructive whatsoever to the surrounding society.

During the first world war you had anti-war protestors create “dada art”. Dada was art that represented total nihilism, total chaos—a bunch of newspaper clippings and individual printed letters glued together to form a vague and unreadible abstract painting; random bits of metal glued into mobiles that hung suspended—rather than stood on anything solid; mass-produced furniture and machinery rendered useless, then put on display. Basically, a junk pile in a gallery meant to spread secular pacifist message, wrapping it in psychobabble whenever the viewer might question either secularism or pacifism.

I myself spent a year studying modern art (amongst other genres) at a private art college in the 1980s. Suffice it to say, by then art schools had become little more than spigots of cultural marxism, with the “pop art” of the 1960’s and 70’s nothing but a rehash of dadaism. Everything was now about “fighting fascism”, with it being increasingly questionable whether/not such a fight was worthwhile.

On my own I came to the conclusion that it’s meaningless to discuss any intrinsic value of art apart from its surrounding civilization—aside from this it’s a mere novelty, worth no more than whatever a collector of novelties will pay for it. And so after that you immediately get into a discussion of “what makes for a worthwhile civilization”—Plato’s Republic all over again.

I myself hold to the belief man is of a dual nature—both Dionysian and Apollonian, the passions and the reasoning, the horse and the rider—and that the happiness and overall constructiveness of any civilization rests on its institutions encouraging the rider to be in control of the horse, encourages its citizens to gain control over their own passions—be a master over these things, use them as a tool for one’s own higher self, rather than be mastered by them.

To the extent art in some way(s) supports and encourages this model of the reasoning in control over the passions—this “order over chaos”—then such art is beneficial and constructive for a civilization. But to the extent it fails in this challenge, then it isn’t beneficial per se—it is at best “neutrally decorative” (or merely “neutrally informative”), and at worst a stimulator of vice.
 
Maybe an incoherent idea but just wanted to throw it out there ... You hear from guys like Oswald Spengler how art moves with culture, how as a culture changes the dominant artform of the culture will change (sculpting, painting, poetry, novels, classical plays, architecture, operas, etc.) Thus we now ask, especially with the seeming stark decline of modern music and movies, what is the defining art of today's American culture? I asked a friend who thought about it and he said "meme's", which I thought was funny and apropos of the modern social media era, but depressing as well because meme's aren't very sophisticated.

My idea is that the modern "art-form" defining modern America is algorithm design. This is obviously a shaky assertion in regards to how one chooses to define art, but certainly a secular, cynical definition of art could be that of Christopher Hitchens: "All art is propaganda." As Christians, I don't think we define art within this limitation (we focus on beauty), but for secular society it may fit well... For things like algorithm design and data analysis, I don't think "Normies" quite understand how much subjectivity goes into these designs and analyses. Algorithms dictate what we see and don't see on Google and YouTube, algorithms try to manipulate our habits (especially consumerist habits), and algorithms can funnel ne'er-do-well's into honeypots on the internet for doxxing. Algorithms are one of the most powerful forms of human expression today, working behind the scenes yet conveying all the hallmarks of powerful manipulative functions of the viewer that maybe architecture or movies performed in the near past.

Maybe wrong thread for this idea, but was just thinking about this question that must be on a lot of our minds: What is the Defining Art Form of the Current Era?
 
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