96% of Ordinary People Know That Modern Art is Crap and Artists Are Pompous Narcissists

Belgian art lovers are shocked – shocked! – that 96% of passers-by on a busy street didn’t take much notice give much thought to a work of art by famous Belgian artist Luc Tuymans. (Fedora tip: BoingBoing)

“People enjoy Tuymans’ work in art galleries and museums all around the world – people who love art, that is…people who are already interested and know they are looking at art. But what would happen if we took away that context?”

What happened is that the vast majority of people took it for what it is: abstract, unappealing nonsense. In other words, it registered as visual noise. If you need a special artistic setting, like a gallery or a museum, for people to know they’re looking at art, it isn’t art (or at least not very good or interesting art).

For another demonstration of what passes for art these days, go to the Carnegie International exhibition. Then again, don’t. It’s a waste of time and money that will bore and confuse you with “sculptures” made of macaroni, action figures, and Christmas ornaments when it’s not disturbing you with low-resolution animation of transsexuals throwing feces at each other.

Comments 6

  1. Bitterman wrote:

    You’re rather unfair to art in general. For better or worse, art (and inevitably, art appreciation) is entirely dependent on both the audience and context.

    Yes, you can call much contemporary art “abstract, unappealing nonsense.” But that sentiment is true of many art forms presented to a non-appreciative audience. The Japanese tea ceremony would probably be seen as slow, boring, snobbish crap to most people. But then, isn’t Iron Maiden considered hellish noise to others? To some, romance writing is trite garbage. To others, science fiction is slacker daydreaming. I know people who see web comics as the highest possible art form. Others find art in a particularly snarky /. post.

    I don’t think that art is one of those universal things that we all enjoy. Maybe there are fairly universal pieces of art that our society generally enjoys, but that doesn’t mean that art is an entirely transcendental experience. Some stuff is going to work for some people and simply fail for others. That doesn’t automatically make it bad art.

    Posted 28 Apr 2008 at 1:21 am
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    You make a good point. Actually, similar thoughts had occurred to me after posting. However, what annoyed me most was the arrogant presumption that Tuymans’ work is “important” and that people either ought to be “woken up” by it on their own or “educated” to properly appreciate it. I think that more often than not art should stand on its own in a free market of ideas and expressions. If it fails to move people, perhaps it’s simply not moving. Art is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, if the vast majority of eyes/visual cortices don’t register what they behold as art, perhaps it isn’t really art. Or, rather, it may be very poor art or art that only appeals to a small segment of the population.

    I can of course think of contrary cases based on my own biases (such as wondering how could anyone prefer Britney Spears over Pink Floyd), and I freely confess that contradiction and apparent hypocrisy. It’s something I need to think about further, I guess.

    Posted 28 Apr 2008 at 9:00 am
  3. kvs wrote:

    You make a great point. most modern art is crap, meant to allow people that are generally untalented to have a place to showcase their work. in fact, these “artists” produce art out of selfishness since they WANT to produce art and could care less that they have no talent. the only thing that matters to them is that they want to be artists. so they draw a yellow line on a canvass and add 3 blue dots and give it a fancy name “The soul doomed to existential demise” which the intelligentsia applauds and elevates since 1) it has been brainwashed to do so through its schools and artistic superiors and 2) there is a veritable dearth in real aesthetic art. For this reason, modern art lacks a permanence and cannot be appreciated by the majority of society (even after 100 years). people still turn to classical notions of art which ARE art and DO transcend time (i.e. a corinthian column is aesthetically appreciated now as it was 2500 years ago) and truly have an impact on EVERYONE’s spirit.

    Posted 19 Jun 2009 at 1:10 am
  4. Faux Artist wrote:

    I’m undertaking a very unique modern art social experiment to find out if todays art really is crap!
    Follow my progress at FauxArtist.co.uk

    Posted 03 Feb 2010 at 6:29 am
  5. brett wrote:

    kvs,
    there is vast amount of classic art that would be almost as difficult to appreciate as it’s modern equivalent. The classic western art aesthetic is very different from say a traditional African, Indian or Japanese aesthetic. What looks, feels or tastes or sounds good to an individual is very dependent on the cultural experience of that individual. Those with open minds are generally better equipped to experience and appreciate something with a different aesthetic sensibility than the one thery are accustomed to. To point out the Corinthian Column as the peak of western art and then discount all of modern art is pretty foolish. Admittedly, I don’t think Tuyman’s art featured here is that great, but there are equally mediocre or even yawn inducing pieces of classical western art out there.
    You can critique artist’s work on an individual basis, but to critique modern art in general simply shows ignorance to what art is. Btw… What are your feelings on Doric, Ionic and Egyptian columns?

    Posted 12 Feb 2010 at 12:58 pm
  6. Sir God wrote:

    traditional African, Indian or Japanese aesthetic are beautiful and meaningful…contemporary art is crap.

    Posted 18 Aug 2010 at 9:31 pm

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