Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Modern Art

I hate modern art.

And you want to know why? It's because of what modern art has done to me. Here I am, just minding my own business, not offending anybody, whistling a pleasant tune - and then suddenly I am dragged against my will into this place called the MOMA, and forced to stand in various rooms for hours on end.

The MOMA is New York's museum of modern art. And I could live a thousand years and never set another foot in that temple of boredom.

Imagine for a moment, that modern art does nothing for you. It does not move or stir you. It awakens nothing within your spirit. It neither excites nor intrigues you, it doesn't impress you and it doesn't get you thinking. It is an utterly neutral object in your field of vision. A bit like a mailbox.

Keep in mind for this hypothetical that you've given modern art many, many chances. You've approached it with an open mind and have been quite willing to be moved and stirred, if only the modern art would live up to its end of the deal. But at the end of the day, you have to conclude that this whole modern art thing is just not doing it for you. From the minimalist to the abstract and everything in between, modern art is just not on your wavelength.

In fact, you're slightly suspicious that it might all be a bunch of bullshit.

Before this starts to sound like Bright Lights, Big City, let's drop the second person. Let me stress though that I have nothing, nothing at all against the devotees of modern art. If you think modern art is way cool, then God love you. Go to it, my man. Godspeed. You have my full support. But if you try to drag me to the museum with you and then intimate that if I don't want to go then there must be something wrong with ME, then my hatred for you will burn with the fire of a thousand suns. I have kooky art preferences of my own too. I'm a big fan of the post-tonal stylings of early 20th century German composer Paul Hindemith, but I have never once tried to stuff his music down anyone's throat. I know that Hindemith may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you think he sounds like butt, I'm not going to argue with you. In fact, you're not even wrong. To you he does, and that's legitimate.

But many, many times during my childhood and teenage years, I was pushed into compulsory visits to the MOMA. Set aside for a moment the fact that appreciation of modern art may require some nuance and experience that is beyond a junior high student. I actually had to bring a notebook with me and jot down how this particular Jackson Pollack piece made me feel. What did it do to me? What did it say?

Now, with the understanding that to me modern art is about as exciting as a mailbox, or a box of seran wrap, or a handicapped parking spot, try to imagine having to spend a mandatory afternoon in the MOMA. You stand in one room for a while, contemplating the seran wrap. Then you move a few yards to the left and observe a box of pencils. For ten mintes. Now do this until four hours have elapsed.

Everything would be cool between me and modern art if this could be an acceptable conversation:

Friend: Hey! There's a Lichtenstein exhibit opening at the MOMA this week. Let's check it out!
Me: No thanks. I don't really get modern art. As a result, trips to the MOMA for me are just staggeringly boring and unpleasant. But definitely, you should go. I'll just play some Gamecube until you get back.
Friend: Sounds good! I'll be back at 6.

Ah, that would be nice. But no, here's the real conversation.

Friend: Hey! There's a Lichtenstein exhibit opening at the MOMA this week. Let's check it out!
Me: Ehhhh... you know, the lines will probably be real long.
Friend: Not if we leave now. Hey, we could walk there!
Me: Oh, it'll be so crowded. And it's stuffy in there. And what's that "suggested donation" all about? If they don't let you in without making it, why is it "suggested"?
Friend: Jeez, where's your artistic curiosity RD? It's Lichtenstein! Don't tell me you're just an uncultured boob?
Me: ....(defeated simper) I'll get my coat.

Oooooh, Roy Lichtenstein! He's using the classic charcoal sketch technique, but to draw a dirty sock? And a car tire? Genius! The contrast! The irony! It's so self aware! Oh! Oh!.... I'll need some clean pants.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Rowsdower. You're too funny. All of your posts crack me up! I bet you're cute too!

Rowsdower said...

Hey thanks! And yes I am! Imagine Fabio with his hair all mussed, looking pouty, in a kind of a ripped, Civil War era shirt. That's pretty much me.