Mature Content and Language
This is another episode in the art documentary series, This is Modern Art, by Matthew Collings. In this episode, Collings explores the place of beauty in modern art. How does beauty fit into art that tries to shock? What is the purpose of beauty in art? Doesn’t most conceptual art try to dispense with beauty entirely? Is beauty something we need for comfort? Does it have something to say in art or is it just a distraction?
Parts 3 – 5 after the jump
Mature content and language:
So this is a 1990s documentary about modern art. Matthew Collings, an artist himself, leads us through Picasso, Pollock and Warhol to try to get some glimmer of an idea on what modern art might be. I like the approach of admitting confusion and investigating the various possibilities. I must admit that I’ve always held Picasso in the highest position among artists, but the quotes attributed to him are seeming more threadbare with each repetition. I feel that Pollock was some kind of accidental moron who produced absolutely magnificent works. The first time I ever approached a Pollock at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I was quite literally blown away and actually said out loud, ‘Oh holy fucking shit! That’s what it is.’ The painting was enormous with lots of black and white in it. But the size was not really significant. What hit me in the head about it was that it suddenly went 3D on me. It almost made me dizzy. I saw all the layers and complexities and they were overwhelming. But nevertheless, Pollock is moronic and doesn’t hold the interest.
I’ve always felt that the sly, insulting, flippant intelligence of Andy Warhol was an extremely important aspect of art in the 20th century. His odd repetitive behavior, both verbal and visual, makes the great statement of modern art. I think Warhol’s art can only exist in its relationship to film. In fact, I think Warhol’s work is entirely filmic. There is probably not a single painting in his entire body of mature work. It is easy for many people to insult Warhol and dismiss him as junk. I suspect that would make him very happy. Warhol is kind of like Los Angeles. The good stuff is hidden in the dumpy shop at the end of the strip mall you’re driving past. You have to go inside and look around a bit or you won’t find it. Most people move to LA and drift through it with their second-hand little dream and a part-time job while they try to become someone they once saw in a magazine. Meanwhile, they’re just a person from Iowa who’s never even looked at LA. They’ll go back to die in Iowa while watching soap operas and smoking American Spirits. Warhol knew that almost everyone you meet is that person from Iowa who doesn’t have any eyes and his art is code for how to avoid them. He wanted you to watch him on television and think he was an idiot. He was actually in the wrong city. New York was over in the fifties. He should have moved to LA.
Watch parts 3 – 5 after the jump
Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Chagall, Braque, Warhol, Rothko, Kandinsky, de Kooning, Motherwell, Nevelson, Pollock, Miro, Duchamp, Calder, Ernst, Richter, Beuys, Giocometti, Klee, and on. Hosted by Orson Welles. Directed by Herbert Kline. It’s great because there are so many of the artists speaking for themselves.
If you don’t know anything about being a painter, Andy Warhol clears it all up in this short film clip. This is the entire 20th century in art summed up to perfection by a raving genius.