Thank God for Modern Art

Artwork by Damien Hurst
Artwork by Damien Hurst

The good news for everyone is that Twentieth Century Art has removed the artifice from art. I do not know who was responsible - the usual suspects are Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp or Jackson Pollock. Personally I think it was all of them. Removing the artifice from art means that now you no longer need any artistic skill whatsoever to do art. You do not need to spend years learning anatomy or perspective or light and shade. In fact, it is downright frowned upon as if you are using your ability to do art to hide the fact that you do not have an artist's soul. Indeed, there are now a group of artists called Conceptual artists who just think up the piece and then someone else makes it. It is as if the actual work of art is beneath them. Damien Hurst has allegedly allegedly amassed £150 million for not actually much doing painting or sculpting at all. He has a group of nameless, faceless manufacturers to do all the real work. Tracey Emin does not even bother to do that. She just declared her bed was art and cut out any effort at all.

The reason that this is all good news for you and me is because it has led to an explosion of art and artists. It is everywhere. It is on our streets. It is in our shops. It is in our home. Hell, it is even in Kid's comics. Of course, we do not call it Art. It is known as Street Art (if we are being kind) or graffiti (if we are not). It is known as Popular Art (as opposed to Pop Art which is acceptable inside art galleries) or (Shock! Horror!) Commercial art.

Bluebird at Bonneville by Jack Vettriano

Bluebird at Bonneville by Jack Vettriano
Bluebird at Bonneville by Jack Vettriano

I personally believe that Street Art and Commercial Art are more deserving of the title of Art than Fine Art because they can stand up on their own without needing the white walls of a gallery to justify their existence. I agree with Robert Kee in his book"The Shock of the New" when he said that if you took Michelangelo's David out of a museum and put it in a car park, it would still be art; whereas if you took "Equivalent VIII" by Carl Andre out of the Tate gallery and placed it in a car park, it would become just another pile of bricks.Street Art, on the other hand, has to be strong enough to survive on the street. And it is a tough world out there: the best is kept and the worst is declared graffiti and removed. The same is true of Commercial Art. Mass production means that people can now afford to have art in their homes at a reasonable price. We can afford to have a reproduction of a painting by Luis Royo, Jack Vettriano or even Rembrandt on our walls. So we surround ourselves with art. It is on our walls, on our cups, on our calenders, on our laptops, on our CDs, on our book covers, on our clothes and, in extreme cases, even on our bodies. This has all gone to make the dull and colourless world of concrete and tarmac that we live in a lot brighter and more vibrant.


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