Thursday, April 03, 2014

Modern Art

Maggie and I are watching the Sister Wendy videos about art history and art appreciation.  Neither one of us likes it much, but it's one of those things I make the kids do for school.  Cultural literacy and all that. 

In the Christian-homeschooling world, I had heard that Impressionism was bad.  It was the first step in a break-from-reality in paintings, the beginning of a slippery slope.  So, does that make me bad?  You see, I like the Impressionists.  Now I know that the Impressionists cared about beauty.  Even if they were painting impressions instead of realistic depictions, it was still about beauty.

Today as we watched the show about modern art, Sister Wendy told us that an important contribution that Picasso made to the world of art: breaking from the notion that art would be about beauty.  With modern art came the choice to paint what was beautiful or not.  Ugliness and violence was worthy of art too.  (Oh, yeah?  That's one doozy of a "contribution" to art.)

We also learned about a modern artist who believed in the big bang theory.  His art therefore showed a mess, a big ugly mess.  Because, you see, disorder and disarray are where new life and fresh things are created.  (Uh huh....)

Sister Wendy kept telling us that modern art is about freedom -- "freedom from the constraints of reality."  Yes.  Freedom from being bound to the rules.  Yes.  Freedom to think and dream without limitation.  Yes, that sounds to me like "nightmares." 

And that would be why I don't like modern art.
It's not just my silly little preference.
It's about God and reality and beauty and truth.


  1. I think there is a place in art (or music or literature) for depictions of things that are not beautiful. My own definition of good art is that it reflects truth. There is a lot in life that is not beautiful, and art that is aiming to say something true about the human condition is going to reflect that. But I don't think I am disagreeing with you. Because if the depiction of pain or sadness is gratuitous or pointless, there is no catharsis and therefore no value in the expression. And yes, that leaves us with nothing but ugliness.

  2. Cheryl, what you wrote reminds me of what Pastor sometimes says about confession. We speak what is true. The truth may be "I believe in God the Father Almighty..." or the truth may be "I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto Thee ..."

    As ugly as it is that we are sinners, it is good and honest to speak that truth that we are not-honest. (How's that for paradoxical?)

    I think that's different from extolling sin.
    And that's the same as extolling hatred or sin or ugliness because, hey, that's "what I experience" or "what the world's really like" or whatever. (I think that's the same as what you're saying.)