The age old question of “what is art” continues to challenge me as I travel and am exposed to so many varied types of art. Everyone has an opinion and I have learned to just like what i like whether or not someone deems it “good” or “bad” art. Ah, the many discussions (arguments) about art, I’ve had over the years.
Philadelphia, many years ago, started First Friday which is when the Old City art galleries stay open late to allow for visits. For the most part you follow the crowds in and out of the many small galleries and find yourself discussing the shows over drinks in the various bars in the neighborhood. To give you some insight into my confusion about modern art, it started with the Barbies. Yes, the dolls of my youth. One show had pieces of Barbie dolls in various states of deconstructions/decapitation hanging on string to depict the objectification of women or some other struggle. Now to me, it was you stringing parts of Barbie like Christmas popcorn to hang on the tree (you can certainly argue with me on this one but my sister decapitated all of my dolls growing up and she is not a famous artist but now looking back she may have been on the forefront of the modern art movement). Another display that night (it was a banner night for crazy things for me as i navigated modern art) was a display featuring a water pitcher and a row of glasses, each with a different level of water obtained from the Delaware river – which meant it was filled with debris and a brownish color. I can’t remember the explanation but I definitely started questioning my Accounting degree based on the sales price of the river water.
When I travel, I try to visit local art galleries, museums, theatres, etc. to see what the pulse of the city is at that point in time. In New Zealand, i saw a video movie of an ice cream cone melting as well as a large plastic ball that was the size of the room. I’ve seen a white painting on white canvas called “the rose”. I’ve seen photos of an artist in the 70′s naked for 90 days in 90 photos. I’ve seen trash glued to canvas and people standing in doors (ah, performance art). Fun stuff that continues to make me wonder “what is art”. I continue to expand my artistic horizons even if it is frustrating and doesn’t quite compute for me.
So visiting Chicago’s famous Art Institute gave me many artistic options to ponder – with the rain outside, i had time to wander and slowly enjoy the galleries. My mind would enjoy the familiar famous artists and paintings. I’d find the special exhibit along the steps quite interesting and thought provoking. I’d then get pretty far in the modern art collection until i could take no more (my head tends to spin on various mediums and the forks would do me in) and had to leave.
So enjoy the overview of the Chicago Art Institute below and definitely let me know your thoughts on “what is art” and any reactions to the art below.