Modern Art

I write from the train, heading out of Madrid, whence I spent a short week getting over jet lag and again enjoying life in the first world. But alas I arrived under the false assumption that winter was basically over. It’s cold, not overly so, but pressing the bounds of my single fleece. But whine whine, a little cold is good for you from time to time.

The time between the helper gigs is nice: time to appreciate being somewhere new and far. No job to go to. Just days to wander. I love the snacky dinners and tapas abound here.  I spend the wandering being a tourist, going to museums and reading my atheist screeds with cafe con leche. The Prado was a pretty good museum. I got to appreciate the depth and breadth of Goya: from his formal portraits to the amazing, haunting Black Paintings to his small line drawings depicting the disasters of war. The coolest part perhaps was the fact that throughout the museum, they had artists painting copies of various works. I may have mentioned in my previous post that I wanted to take painting lessons and learn a bit more about the process. It was good to see many paintings in various stage of completion, right next to their originals. It also was a reality check as to my painterish ambitions.

I also visited the Reina Sophia, which is the modern art museum. It was cool to see Guernica and a series of photos showing the work in progress. A lot of modern art sucks. Simplistic or chaotic, it seems to lack the mastery of technique of the old masters. Case in point. After passing through rooms of drivel, I came upon a series of ink drawings, one of which, on a piece of paper perhaps 23″x36″ of a single dab of ink. One blob of black on the sheet. As my anger grew, it reminded me of when I first had such feelings. I was at the NY MOMA and there was a huge canvas of solid blue, which a small square of darker blue. At the time I said “someone is laughing all the way to the bank.” Same with this Spanish guy. it’s a small fraud. I left, having had enough of this shit.

On the way out, I was thinking about why art is so different now than in the Renaissance or other great period. Why have we gone from the masters, with their detailed and inspired work to this rubbish. Why are their no modern sculptors that everyone knows about. Who is making the modern Davids or Lancoons? When the stunning plaster of the Sistine Chapel falls to an earthquake like powdered sugar from a doughnut, who has the skills to replace it? Why have we gone from the heights and complexities of Mozart to what passes for music today?

I have always said that when I am pope, I am going to start up the art school again, training sculptors and frescoists to be ready to produce the next generation of masterpieces. But as I grow more and more strident in my atheism, I fear my chances of winning the papal vote in that very same chapel grows weaker by day.

Bu then I realized! Modern art aroused strong emotion in my, and got me thinking about the nature of the world. I have been trolled by art! Art wins again.

Not only is it an expression of the artist, providing a unique look at the world, but it is designed to provoke emotion and inspiration, be it good or bad. It should make you think and wonder.

Mostly this post is about being trolled.

I like art in all its forms. Some of the simplest songs are the most profound, be it in their lyric or melody. A lot of art, even if weird, or especially if weird, or unfathomable, is hypnotic. You find yourself staring at it longer than you expect. There is beauty is shape and form in all its variety.

I was thinking “what is we could take a bunch of Dali’s stuff and bring it back 400 years. What would the people say?” I was wondering if they could have ANY concept of what was happening? (Not that Dali’s work is the most obvious in concept…) What would other painters think? They would be blown away. It might be safe to say that Dali’s paintings were unimaginable in their time. What would they do upon seeing Picasso?

Or, perhaps there were Picassos and Dalis in the Renaissance but were thought to be crackpots and thrown in jail. Who knows?

There is lots of good work out there, stuff like Mark Rydon‘s creepy and ethereal work to Georges Mazilu‘s hypnotic work.

So, take that trip to the gallery you have been putting off. Go see some stuff that makes you think. it’s one of the reasons we are here.


  1. So hear you on the trolling of modern art. If you haven’t seen ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’ yet you MUST watch it (it’s available on Netflix streaming). Don’t learn anything about the movie that you don’t already know, just watch it. It’s about this very subject and it’s fucking fascinating

  2. Oh, and ‘My Kid Could Paint That’ is another great documentary – no where near the mind fuck of ‘Gift Shop’ but worth watching