Monday, January 18, 2010

What is art?

On Saturday, I met up with my friends Robert, Maria and Pete for a visit to the modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago and dinner. Robert, Maria and I worked together, Pete is Maria's very nice and very patient husband who comes along on our adventures. He's a lot of fun so it's nice when he joins us. We settled on the Art Institute because we thought it would be a nice indoor place where we didn't have to be completely quiet and we could take our time or just stop for a while and talk without worrying about holding up a table or disturbing others. Then again, we probably disturb others just a bit, but too bad.

About a year ago The Art Institute opened a modern wing. We headed right for it.

What we found was very interesting, to say the least. It's interesting what can be defined as art. I tend to have an open mind about things. That's not to say that I don't have an opinion, and I'll let you know what it is, but I don't profess to be the authority on art. Yet I can't help but question some of it.

Take for example an exhibit in one of the rooms that consisted of a long, oval shaped installation that hung from the ceiling. On the exterior were fluorescant tube lights, arranged in a staggared pattern. It was about 25 feet long from end to end. Standing at one end, inside you saw all of the transformer boxes and wires. From a distnce it looked like a big sling. It hung in a room that had drywall flooring that was broken in spots (like a city street with potholes all over). For whatever reason, this is art. Or is it?

There was another room that was about architecture. In it were framed blueprints and sketches of famous buildings all over the country, some were the actual plans, some were just ideas, but you could see where those ideas lead. They had a number of scale models too. Is this art?

Then there was the room with the odd things hanging in it. There's me studying one of those odd things now. It's a piece of steel with a piece of yellow silk hanging inside of it. The name of the piece? Steel and silk. Art?

Another room had white metal panels affixed to the wall. The walls were white, the panels were white. Below is Robert, he's pondering all the white. Does he think this is art?

One of the most intersting installations was this room, it had a wedding dress standing in the center of it. Below is Maria posing behind the dress. Her boobs aren't quite that big. The wallpaper was a repeating pattern of someone sleeping in a bit paired with someone hanging from a tree. The description on the wall talked about prejudice and opression, marriage, gay marriage and death. The artist had a vision and shared exactly what they were thinking. Art.

When I think of art, I think of Michaelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Seurat, Hopper. Picasso and Warhold are more modern but are well known. At one point, they were all "modern." But at any time, did someone walk up to "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" and question it's worthiness as a piece of art? Were people confused by Monet's waterlillies? One wonders.

I guess art is something that stirs the soul, makes you think, and causes discussion. I may not agree with it, but it gave us all something to bond over, to study, to discuss and talk about over dinner and drinks. And as far as I'm concerned, I've turned drinking into an art form.


1 comment:

Joy said...

Yes, they did.

I haven't been there since the new wing was added. Some modern art I get and some feels like they're playing a joke on me.