This is Modern Art – A Documentary Film by Matthew Collings

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.

Part 2:

Watch parts 3 – 5 after the jump

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