lol modern art

Yesterday I went to the Art Institute of Chicago with my parents, aunt, and uncle. I love the Art Institute. Between many art class field trips and my mom being an art teacher, I’ve been there so many times that I no longer need a map to navigate it. Definitely in the double digits. But they had built a whole new modern art wing since the last time I visited, so I was excited to check that out.

Oh boy.

Now, I probably have more of an appreciation for modern art than your average person. Up until my senior year of high school, I thought I was going to be an artist, not a scientist. I’ve taken many advanced classes, won art awards, yadda yadda. There is plenty of modern art I really enjoy, including some crazy abstract/weird/symbolic stuff.

But man, I just don’t get some modern art. Seriously, what the hell?That is an old oversized car mat someone bent and pinned. And it is now hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago. WTF. And this wasn’t the weirdest stuff. There was a black canvas, a pile of rocks, a painting of a date, a video of an electric guitar being drug through grass…

I’m sorry, but just because you were the first person to think to do something doesn’t make it good art. Nor does writing up some flowery bullshit post-hoc explanation of what deep symbolism your piece has. Gah, artist pet peeve.

Some of the stuff there looked comparable or even worse than stuff I did as a toddler. For example, The First Part of the Return from Parnassus by Cy Twombly:

“Cy Twombly’s famously inimitable art is tensely balanced between expressively abstract and suggestively pictorial impulses. His work originated under the auspices of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1940s and early 1950s and advanced uniquely along lines afforded by its freedoms. Twombly’s entire enterprise is characterized by unruly marks—stammering, energetic, and raw—that merge drawing, painting, writing, and symbolic glyphs. Scrawled, overwritten, erased, or willfully misspelled, words cite people, places, events, and stories nominally derived from Greco-Roman culture and history, especially literature, poetry, and myth.”

…And here’s the watercolor hanging in my bathroom that I did at age 3:Let’s have a contest.

Write the best summary you can of my piece that would make it worthy of an art museum. “Best” can either be most humorous, most deep, most similar to the BS descriptions we’re used to hearing. This is art, I’m not going to make strict rules!

The one I like the most will get a quick sketch by me of something of their choice. I’ll post my favorites in a couple of days.


  1. says

    “Young Jen McCreight’s celebration of color and texture symbolizes the human spirit in motion. Juxtaposing bold strokes with a distinct impressionist influence denotes the living struggle within us all”I dunno.. that’s all I got lol I just like to say ‘juxtapose’

  2. says

    An example of Jen McCreight’s early work during her Watercolor Period, this piece exemplifies her deep understanding of Abstract Expressionism even in her earliest works. A study in futility of forced order, as seen by the varying, collapsing pattern of the dots around the outer edges. It also shows how people’s tendencies to try to force their lives into some artificial order crushes their sense of self as those ordered patterns break down into chaos. This can clearly be seen in the deflating ovid in the center of the burgeoning chaos, the layers representing the layers of self we all have, the layers beginning to intrude upon each other as the artificially constructed sense of self collapses.

  3. says

    “The explosion of warm colors fighting one another for space in J. McCreight’s piece “The First Emotion” is not only eye-catching, but an important piece in the history of her artwork. Following in the footsteps of such greats as Kandinski and the Russian Avant-Garde, McCreight’s piece carefully balances the extremity of vivid colors and judiciously placed white-space, drawing the viewer into the emotional experience she’s created. The First Emotion — is it love, is it jealousy, is it fear or is it an appreciation for the complex beauty of the world captured so simply in this piece?”

  4. Alea says

    “In a mixture of paints and children’s fingers, this work of Jennifer McCreight is truly resonant in a world of solemnity. Completed in her early 1990’s period of synthetism, this colorful piece is a wonder to behold. Although this piece can be interpreted many ways, a common speculation ties in this painting with McCreight’s lifelong relationship with scientific theory. What is pictured here may indeed be the earth’s many layers of crust and the expanses of heavens above! No matter the symbolism, we are all truly grasped by the amazing rhetoric and childish innocence of this piece.”

  5. Matt says

    Here we have a watercolor ripe with political satire from Jennifer McCreight in her typical avant garde Post-Toddlerist style. As one can plainly see, the picture conveys the anger the artist feels from her frustrations with potty training and being denied by her mother the fundamental right to eat dirt. Bold in her defiance of typical artistic norms, she uses amorphous concave shapes as a method to display her imagery breaking with strict adherence to geometric and mathematical principles popularized by M.C. Escher.One may be familiar with Jennifer’s more recent artwork such as her recreation of Georges Seurat’s, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte” by means of vajazzling Martha Stewart.

  6. Chabneruk says

    “Genius rarely shows itself in a pure, elementary form. But the early work of Jennifer McCreight demonstrate the instinctive, pure emotion of an artist yet unaffected by trivialities like form or training. Her famous ‘watercolor hanging in my bathroom that I did at age 3’ – the title underlining the naive importance of the work – has fascinated generations of young atheists-to-be, symbolizing the struggle to overcome ancient systems of belief. The central piece, washy in its definition, is mostly though to represent the respective deity. The red center symbolizes the conflicts every religion brings with itself, gradually weakening towards the green rim – a sign of the positive possibilities religion might bring. This contrast of a strong, violent center towards the soothing outher ring has also been a topic in Dan Brown’s new bestseller “Watercolour”, where protagonist Robert Langdon deciphers McCreights secret code. The points that move towards the edge of the painting represent the people that left their religion and their way to freedom – leaving the frame of the painting. McCreights work is currently exhibited in the Center of Modern Atheistic Art in New Town.”(And cut me some credit, I am German :D )

  7. loreleion says

    At one of those restaurants where they give you a paper tablecloth to draw on, the area in front of my two-year-old little brother after our meal looked much like Twombly’s work. I wonder if he also used ketchup.

  8. says

    Sorry, I’ll throw something in for the game a little bit later, but misunderstanding modern / postmodern art is one of my little pet-peeves.The thing about the car-mat and other pieces of art that deliberately “repurpose” common household items, etc. is definitely an artistic focus — things like that are trying to consider, and make us think about, the meta-question of what exactly we mean by “art” and what constitutes it. One of the central insights of postmodernity, particularly deconstruction, is that we as a people have this nasty habit of constructing arbitrary criteria for judgment and then trying to normalize it, even if that criteria ends up throwing out a lot of legitimate work. So go back a few hundred years and the definition of “art” might have excluded anything produced by a woman, for example. It’s not so much a question of symbolism — and yes, a lot of understandings of pieces of art can get too caught up in bourgeois understandings of the art as a dehistoricized symbolic representation, divorced from its context and connotations — as it’s a question of form and presentation. The neat thing about the car mat example is that it plays a game of relative placement in metacontext. Most of the time we experience car mats under-foot (literally) and don’t pay much attention to them (I live in LA and have to commute on the 101 during rush hour for work, so it’s something that happens a lot to me), so what I see as going on here is taking something that we treat as an unseen utility, literally a mat we stand on, and put it in context as something to observe , celebrate, and consider, in front of our eyes as almost an “equal”, if that makes any sense. It’s almost politicizing the car mat, if you can call it that, in the sense Roland Barthes uses in “Mythologies” (which is a fantastic read, by the way, and I recommend it).And the Twombly painting is something that focuses more on the execution and form as a means of representation. If you’ve ever read the Original Scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, it’s a similar thing — the driving element is the haste and the speed, and not so much the “final quality” of the work.So all in all, while the “come up with a bizarre explanation of my toddler finger paintings!” game is fun, there’s a separate assumption you’re making, and that you must make, for the game to be something funny: that your finger painting doesn’t qualify as art in the first place, which is probably a mistake. Authorial intentionality doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to understanding the final text (used in the literary theory sense here).Love your blog, by the by.

  9. says

    sorry to not provide an entry worthy of the contest, but being linked to your deviant art page reminded me how incredibly awesome “Pygmalion” is and that I never noted this to you before.

  10. sweaterman says

    “Jen McCreight’s famously inimitable art is tensely balanced between expressively abstract and suggestively pictorial impulses. Her work originated under the auspices of a ‘time-out’ in the late 1980s and advanced uniquely along lines afforded by its freedoms and her mother’s desire to ‘have her out of my hair for the afternoon’. McCreight’s entire enterprise is characterized by unruly dots—stammering, energetic, and raw—that merge drawing, painting, writing, and symbolic glyphs. The ‘blob’ in the middle of the drawing cites people, places, events, and stories nominally derived from Greco-Roman culture and history, especially literature, poetry, and myth.”

  11. says

    …And this is why I’m so glad I majored in genetics instead of art. Stuff like this would have driven me completely insane.

  12. LS says

    I actually kinda like the car mat, though I don’t think being a car mat adds anything to it. When I see it I can see both the torso portion of an elegant gown, and someone covering their face. Which, analytically speaking, would seem to be an expression of being ashamed of femininity. Or maybe I’m missing the point. One way or another, though, I’m actually rather fond of current artistic trends. They’re not my favorite form of art, but I enjoy what they’re attempting. To each their own, though.

  13. the_Siliconopolitan says

    Iono. There sure is lossa modern art that I don’t ‘get’, and then suddenly something hits me. I actually like that pinned up mat, for instance.So while I have a lot of disdain for certain Danish Academy professors and their undue representation in Danish museums, my current attitude that is, that I am not to judge. It’s not all of it for me. Different stuff means different things to different people.

  14. Scxin says

    “In Jen McCreights earlier works, the naivistic structure sometimes overwhelms the post-feminist, pre-avant garde message of her later works. This sardonically named “Watercolor on my bathroom wall (which I did when I was 3) is not one of them. From the blood-red center of this masterpiece to the angry, abandoned splashes of the same angrily attacking the edges, this is a work which calls out to the raging ovulation of the ur-female in all of us. Circled in peaceful green and brown, the heart of the painting clearly symbolizes the post-industrial image of the all-encompassing mother earth, imprisoning the rage and pain of the anima. Notice the earth strangling not only the center, but also the green – as the “mother” of ancient legends turns into herself, turning away from her children, turning towards the heart of herselfBut what this masterpiece invites is a reflection of the role of the mother and the female in the history (herstory?) of humankind. Is this introspection and containment of herself and her offspring the eponymynous dead end of the mother? The naivism of the strokes challenges the recipient to imagine her/his self in the position of the trapped red, fading to orange, dying in its earthy prison. As we look at the mythology surrounding women through history, perhaps we find the explanation to those angry stabs of color attacking the limits of the artwork. Rambling, changing through their incarnations, they are the fleeting wants and needs of the captured, suppressed ovula – the anima of the painting stretching beyond, reaching for the freedom of space and individual meaning. Perhaps we can even here extrapolate something of the artist herself, caught in the simultaneous prison of her youth and her femininity.”

  15. says

    I actually really like this train of thought. Hadn’t thought of it on first glance, but it makes a lot of sense looking back up at the mat. Perhaps it’s not exactly being “ashamed of femininity”, though? By your logic the implied woman represented by the mat is already wearing the gown, which probably would have to have been put on at least *by* her, if not exactly willingly. So maybe there’s a more feminist-y interpretation here: that the implied woman here is ashamed of the fact that she’s constrained by the sexist / heteronormative gender norm of the dress, but is still stuck in it, even though it’s not representative of her own self-conception? This even leaves some room for consideration of the object — the patriarchal feminine ideal of the dress is literally that of a “mat” for men to walk on, wipe their feet on, and violently disregard.Thanks for posting this. :D

  16. says

    My Freshman comp prof was all about “art is bringing order out of chaos.”Much modern art is all about bringing money out of chaos–not all of it or even most of it, but enough of it to give one paws.

  17. Dwpeabody says

    Thank you for showing the Crap that is Cy Twombly to the world, that stuff is just terrible and I don’t care how many paragraphs they can write about it. It does not make it any less rubbish. I’m an engineer now but before that I wanted to be an artist. What finally put me off was how you had to be able to write pages of obfuscated crap to be taken seriously. It’s like post modern philosophy the longer and more confusing the essay the less substance there is to the painting.

  18. StarvingInAGarret says

    Thank you. As an artist, I am starting to seriously resent the notion that we have to accept all art as good if it’s got a pretentious enough blurb next to it. While I share Stephen’s sentiments and like the Cy Twombly, I’m finding it to really grate.Art has become about embracing the mediocrity of the well connected over original ideas and creativity. And there’s so much mediocrity going around, that people don’t notice that when you read between the jargon, lots of the pretentious verbiage is pretty content-free. This is what happens when we as a society stop funding art. It becomes the domain of the trust fund kids; those who can afford to do it without a day job aren’t necessarily the best and the brightest.

  19. Eliza_munson says

    I like Twombly. Work like his has a free casual feeling that puts me at ease. And while I certainly don’t like all art I can appreciate that just because I don’t care for say Sol Lewitt doesn’t mean it is without value. So some of you don’t like Twombly, obviously some of us do. Your dislike doesn’t devalue our enjoyment or mean that particular piece of art is “bad”. Art is subjective and no one person or group of people may define art or it’s value though some try *coughjessehelmscough*

  20. L.Long says

    She delicately assigns the pastel colors to the main part to hid it’s purpose. The aggressive use of the dots accent the demand to attention as you realize the true nature of the butterfly wings that prepare to lift the artist to new undiscovered heights. Thus freeing her to use new unplumbed talents of color and space.

  21. says

    Oh, and the larger (important) discussion aside, to the people writing blurbs: If you’re going to make fun of the excesses of my discipline, at least try a little harder:The “painting” “entitled” “the watercolor hanging in my bathroom that I did at age 3” stands in purported postironic metacontext as a subliminal representation of Neo-Foucauldian sexuality contrasted with the hegemony of the religiopatriarchal discourses that typify the extradominant, self-perpetuatory narrative of spiritual immortality. Introspective re(cap)itualtion of the painting’s historiography demands that we make a choice: either accept the privilege of a Pre-Raphaelite objectification of the biological as “G/god-deposed” interrelative to the broader Leftist mythological discourse, or reject hypertrivial assertions of hierarchical dominance /en rejoivivant/, which typifies and creates a counterpublic expression of modern /Dasein/, as counterrevealed in analysis by Heidegger. Of course we must not and cannot unprejudicially disregard the Derridian supplementarity called by the work within it’s own subtextual, self-referentiality. The drawing (re)presents the “cell” as deemed by imperialist Western “biological” standards and recuses itself of those standards by both reifying itself as its own creation, but by suggesting its status as part of a larger social organism, recreating and allegorizing the struggle of the global proletariat against multicultural capitalism, contra Lacan Overall the work succeeds in drawing together and unifying diverse /narratif(ve)s dehors l’hors-texte/ and challenges our assumptions about the state of our privileged day-to-day lives.

  22. Jonmue says

    Ouch.I enjot your politics. Too bad you’re dumping on modern art. Shame on you. I love Twombly, and don’t mind real criticism, but… You’d think that a bunch of science nerds would find it in themselves to be a bit more forgiving of fellow oddballs. Too bad…

  23. Roki_B says

    Art is what people decide it is. Some people don’t like modern art, some people do. But it is still art that is appreciated.

  24. Bluejay8686 says

    “A brilliant find from Jen McCosmos’ earlier works, “Reflections of an Oversized Jawbreaker” is a powerful reminder of the thought-provoking, nay, brain-dream-wrenching powers that one can behold when one licks the same spot over and over on one of those oversized jawbreakers available at any local Cracker Barrel.””The colorful speckled surface of each jawbreaker, unique to any other conceived by man, lavishly adorns the rims of this masterpiece. Of great note, one must note that the speckles on this jawbreaker are in nearly concentric lines, displaying a level of order and design that would make even Dawkins weap upon viewing. There is a precarious balance of here, as this piece transcends the seeming randomness of a normal jawbreaker, and sends a person’s consciousness convulsing towards the obvious conclusion that our world and Universe is a testament to the order and design of the Almighty Space Duck.””Delving towards the center of the painting, one finds the many tasty layers of jawbreaker, arranged in a beautiful array like a free buffet for the taste buds; an orgy of artificial flavors and esters where even the most adventurous taste bud would fear to tread without getting giddy and doing a tastebud-flail. The viewer, once recovered from the brain party instilled by the speckled painting rim, would find within these layers the very essence of the human experience. Life presents every human a series of experiences that lie along some layer of flavor, or ‘layvor’ for short, with which all of us must contend. Some experiences are sweet and pleasant like the green and orange layvors, others are bitter and nasty like the gross red stuff at the center of every oversized jawbreaker. We all have to fight through each and every layvor though, because those jawbreakers are like $3 each and by golly it will not go to waste!””A message on the human experience? A plea for the teaching of Intelligent Design by the Almighty Space Duck in schools? Jen McCosmos has blended everything a person can contemplate into this one tapestry of watercolor.”

  25. NotThatGreg says

    While paying homage to the fiducial elements of the medium, McCreight explores the implications of a dramatically enclosing space, defined by ironically blurred boundaries within a quasisymmetrical but tauntingly open outer domain. Typical of her early work with watercolors, the artist modulates both the density of the colorant and the quality of line; unusual in this piece is composition that draws the eye alternately between the stark border elements, and the warm symbolism of the chromatically pyramidal central figure. The viewer is left both with a sense of delight from the implied motion of the surrounding area (“is it moving clockwise? or randomly?”) and an appreciation of the stasis of the core; representative, perhaps of a single cell, a tree-trunk or even a planet.

  26. El Mudrock says

    OMG is that the face of Jesus I see in the middle?So… thats him at the bottom of a well which is surrounded by Atheists from the future, with their back turned to the well whistling innocently…

  27. LS says

    I’ve been thinking about it since the mat was posted on twitter yesterday. One thing I want to point out is that I don’t see a woman wearing a dress covering her face, I see a gender-neutral blob covering its face, and if I shift my perspective, the ‘arms’ become the front of a gown. I think you got that, but I just wanted to clarify in case you didn’t. I really like how the real-world function of the mat serves to add to the overall meaning of the piece in this interpretation. I hadn’t considered that. One of my favorite ‘tactics’ of modern artists is the use of mediums which are not inherently artistic, but which serve to add to the piece. Like sculpting a burn victim out of matches, or painting a fat kid using condiments.

  28. Pumpkinetics says

    “Topography of the self-portrait” provides an astounding insight into the development of a fiercely independent artist. Jen McCreight exhibits her burgeoning female sexuality through the womb, the ever-persistent symbol of fertility, and her ideas take form as the foetus struggling within. Surrounding her are circles of oppression, the varied states of humanity emblazoned by three highly distinct tones. Yet despite their shared goal of suppressing Jen’s womanhood, these groups are shown to act at odds with one-another, their unions uncohesive and easily undone by the growing influence of feminism. The passive beauty of the female state and the harsh regalism of the outside world are brilliantly realised through the use of spoken tones and hybrid colors.

  29. says

    Painted by Jen when she was only three years old, twelve years before the Exodus, it is the clearest evidence to date for the existence of the Gods. Its initial value completely missed by the religious scholars of the day, being hung in a bathroom stall as a simple decoration for a number of years, its value was only realized after the Holocaust for the divine prophecy it was.Using an odd right to left reading style, common among prophetic works of the period, the initial red and orange dots are a clear representation of blood and the death of billions. The block dots, representative our Cylon creations, are shown pushing the people to edge of the page and is symbolic for the edge of the Universe.It is only when looking at the middle of the work and the symbol that is now synonymous with the “Temple of Hopes” or “The Temple of the Five” that we begin to see it for the prophecy it was. It is here that the Exodus Fleet was able to engage in its first tentative dialogues with the rouge Cylons, those who felt the destruction of the Colonies and the attempted Genocide of Humanity were wrong.The Colonial people, symbolized by the orange dots, now stand freely next to the black dots. The rouge Cylons, now shown in black, are seen protecting the people against the onslaught of destruction by the red dots, representing the optical scanners of those Cylons bent on the destruction of all who oppose them, coming from the left side of the page.While symmetrical in nature the image of the Temple of Hope delineates a stark change between the death and destruction on the right and the safety and hope on the left. It is a clear representation that only through the Gods were we able to even begin, and bear fruit from, the initial talks at the Temple of the Five.Had this work been taken seriously by the religious scholars of their day we could have consulted the Sacred Scrolls and taken steps to recreate the Temple of Hope on Caprica and used it to open a dialogue with our children, as was clearly the intention of the Gods, preventing this divine warning from coming to pass.

  30. Johnny Vector says

    If I were judging this, you would win, just for that second paragraph! Seurat might not approve, but Sondheim would.

  31. Givesgoodemail says

    “Art is the selective recreation of reality according to the artist’s metaphysical values and judgements.”Given that this is true (and this definition has worked for *me* for years), it says something rather unpleasant and slimy about modern “artists”.

  32. Eliza Munson says

    That’s an absurdly limited definition. And a stunning insult. Surely abstract artists aren’t all “slimy” because they don’t reproduce a version of reality you can relate to? It sounds like you are far to eager to write off a gigantic segment of art because it doesn’t conform to your expectations. How narrow minded. I don’t expect you to like modern art if it isn’t your thing but you ought to realize that art creation is not devoted to satisfying your expectations. I can’t help but assume you’ve never felt the need to make art if you’ve found this definition satisfactory. I spent years as an art student and I have no metaphysical values or judgments beyond, “metaphysics is bullshit” and I certainly don’t think art needs to reflect reality.Does this mean that I am incapable of making art? Does my philosophy preclude me from any possibility of making art? What about the artists who work on commission? Do they not make art because the product is not a reflection of themselves but of the desire of their patrons? What about music? Surely you consider that an art…and yet instrumental music is the most non representational of all of the arts. Does that make composers slimy?Frankly, I’m unimpressed by attempts by most non artists to define art. They often end up pulling a Plato and deciding that art needs to fit their objectives. In Plato’s case of course that meant art could only be of the “ideal” meant to inspire the awe and respect of people. Certainly any confrontational art or political art would have been an anathema to Plato given his giant boner for nationalism and conformity.What is art? I consider it simply a form a of media which like any other form of media is made up of good and bad, things that satisfy you and things for which you aren’t the target audience. As far as purpose or aesthetics go there is simply too much diversity to set parameters for art, they have a history of getting crossed, moved and broken anyways.

  33. Moky says

    That video isn’t the worst of it. I went back in December and there were multiple videos of a fucking clown sitting on a toilet reading the newspaper, one where he walked through a door and a bucket dropped on his head, and the last was the worst, the last was where he’s sitting there and screaming and laughing maniacally. My two friends and I walked away throughly disturbed.

  34. Jon says

    Few years ago, at the Tate in London, I went round an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelites, and after soaking up a load of pantings I’d only ever seen in reproductions, many more I’d never seen, and loving pretty much everything, I had the option of going round the Turner Prize exhibit in the next room.I wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face if I had…This is entirely subjective, but, yes, all the modern stuff mentioned at the beginning is art, but it’s just not very good.If people like it then great – there’s lots of stuff I like that other people think is rubbish – but personally I’m really not impressed.

  35. Annie says

    A consideration of Jen McCreight’s watercolor, “I named my cervix Rob Bior”McCreight’s early work denounces toddler conventionality by breaking the color spectrum at the third level. The metamorphic deprecation of “Roy G. Biv” to “Rob Bior” boldly illustrates this artist’s youthful abandonment of the unwritten “Preschool Principle”. McCreight’s obsession with her own cervix haunted her work well into her preteens. Other examples of this fixation include “My cervix is like a camera lens”, a bold multi media exhibit, and “My cervix hates you!!!!”, which is an exemplary example of the modern use of charcoal on dry dog food. The original of this replica is housed in the lavatory of the McCreight family estate.

  36. Katy says

    I’m still kind of in the “it should at least be somewhat beautiful and interesting” school of art, as well. I guess I do appreciate other things, like the comments above about the car mat and the images it suggests, but for me to actually *want* any of this art around me or in my home, it has to be a little more aesthetically pleasing. I know it’s way old school to want art to be beautiful, but I guess I’m so old school they closed the school down…

  37. Katy says

    I, personally, find it more Freudian, especially given the young age of the artist. Definitely Oedipal, and most like anally fixated.

  38. says

    “The First Part of the Return from Parnassus by Cy Twombly” Is actually just what my Granddad sees when he is watch cricket.Someone should scientifically test these paintings to see if they have any real meaning. Get 1000 people to view the painting independently and write down what they think it means and if they tend to agree, then fine.Before anyone says “But art is open to interpretation, each person can see something different, blah blah blah.”, that argument renders the artist irrelevant, might as well be looking for images of Jesus or Elvis in toast.

  39. Kailey says

    I am an abstract painter. I paint what I feel- what that feeling “looks like” to me- color/shape/size/texture- these choices that I make while painting- have contextual meaning to me- however, visual, cultural and social cues play a role in how different people may view my painting. While I do paint for me- when other people look at my work my intentionality is less important than the constructs of their life that inform how they view the art. Artists are irrelevant in some capacity based on this argument- however, I think that is what makes art interesting is its subjectivity. What matters about a finished piece of art is it’s impact on the consumer. Yes- some art is more directive and obvious as to the “meaning” or intent of the artist and yes- some people do over interpret things that might not have much meaning at all..I think that is awesome about art- how the artist uses whatever medium to get people talking and thinking and enjoying, pushing boundaries as to what can even be “considered” as art. Heck- however many hundreds of years later people still are trying to figure out the Mona Lisa.

  40. says

    In this watercolour we see Jen McCreight’s exploration of the loss of innocence as time progresses. In the centre of the picture is the embodiment of man, clearly influenced by Franz Marc’s “Die großen blauen Pferde” in brush strokes but is juxtaposed with the clear homage to the Color Field artist Kenneth Noland’s “Beginning”. We see the centre of ones soul in warm colours, various reds and pinks created through the application of brush strokes which grow darker and colder as they move out from the centre. This represents society’s coldness towards the individual who only wishes to be loved but is forced to create a hard outer shell of coldness in order to function.The dots surrounding this embodiment of man is, while an expression of the boundaries that one faces in day to day life, one sees the call back to a simpler time with the clear influence of the Western Desert Art Movement. The red dots are the finality of social customs, where if one is to cross them means the person is to be lost forever, while the entanglement of the orange and black implies that while there are taboos that are common to all societies it is not consistent as what may be worthy of a warning (orange) in one may be completely permissible (black) in another. In this we see the existence of boundaries in society and how they relate to the person.This relation also reveals to us how Jen sees that these boundaries also prevent people from being able to be who they truly are, rules and social customs are also chains that prevent us from being who we truly are, and only by breaking social mores are we able to fully achieve self realisation.

  41. f'a says

    {… what can s’he mean … ?}{… excuse me Stewardess, i speak jive … let me see …}THAT ISvAS IF- TO SAYLAH-DEE- dada -DAHso. Jen apparently thinks abstract expressionism and avant garde sculpture are not intrinsically valid forms of “good art,” and that She gets to decide who is and who is not a True Artist ™, i.e., a creationist critic. [‘Bubble!’]perhaps she is frustrated that she gave up such a promising vocation at such an early age (when most all children display their natural human abilities as artists), and decided to focus instead on sales and winning awards in commercial and comic illustration, occasionally dabbling in fashion and interior design, i.e., ‘Art is sooo easy, it can’t possibly be a viable career. I better go into science.’ [’Bubble!’]art is about process – an internal experience of the maker – the product of which may or may not communicate to any given person, and which may or may not evoke a similar experience in that person. i.e., “I may only be the bloody Pope, but I bloody well know what I bloody well like!” (Monty Python, The Pope and Michelangelo) (see also: John Baldessari, “If I saw the art around me that I liked, then I wouldn’t do art.”) [‘What exactly is your job?’]“The arts seek provocation of emotion and reflection through subjective means. The more subjective the endeavor, the more individual it becomes, and therefore, difficult if not impossible for someone else to produce. The more objective the pursuit, the more likely it is that someone else will duplicate the achievement.” – Michael Shermer, “Why People Believe Weird Things” pg 42 [‘I dunno… Get paid!’]p.s. Boobquake™ was a massively successful piece of conceptual art in the form of the c.1950 Happenings. Congratulations and Brava! i wish you continued success with your great work and in your career(s).p.p.s. ‘am i snide or am i snot!?’ – S’The Clash‘ino, from “Physics Is God (‘Man, I thought everything L. Ron Hubbard wrote was science fiction…’)”p.p.p.s. NOW Time is Art (per Jose Arguelles), e.g., (see above, rinse. repeat.){has anybody else read “36 Arguments for the Existence of God” by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein?}{imho: fabulous!}coda: QEDQ.E.D.

  42. theindigolemon says

    Is postmodern art based on the assumption that authorial intentionality doesn’t matter?

  43. jimmyboy99 says

    “art is about process”Is it? Not to me it ain’t. Art is about a product that makes me go ‘wow’ at some level. To think it’s any good I need to believe that the artist has some technical skill that I don’t have – not just to have thought of something that I never thought of. I compare it with music: discordant music is just horrible to listen to. And floor mats are horrible to look at (however they are placed).You can call them art because of the process if you like.I call them an exercise in theemporersnewclothes and I call them BS.

  44. Peter B says

    Guarding the Abyss©, Dr. Jen McCreigh, Ph.D. This original watercolor demonstrates fear by showing the Abyss. Yet at the same time shows the guardians providing hope for the fearful. Contact artist for reprint pricing.

  45. Metal_Warrior says

    Sorry, I couldn’t think of a description, but maybe I can provide a Youtube-Link of a movie which is able to do some good:

    Enjoy – I love those guys :D

  46. Eliza Munson says

    You appear to have confused artists with craftsmen. There is some overlap, but the terms are not interchangeable. I personally think artists are more effective when they have a certain level of craftmanship (how much depends on the art). However, craftsmanship alone does not an artist make. A successful artist should also be able to work creatively, both in his creation of art and development of ideas. Craftsmen don’t have to be even remotely creative, they just need to be skilled. When craftsmen try to make art it can result in some creatively stagnant, derivative but technically well made work. It can be appreciated for the skill required but nothing else, because it offers nothing else. It expresses old ideas, in old ways without challenging the artist/craftsman or his audience creatively.Art-craft like this can be well suited to painfully literal illustration and propaganda since it’s message is direct and doesn’t encourage viewers to discover their own perspective on the art.I much prefer artists with the skills necessary to realize their creativity rather than artists with skills but no interesting ideas.

  47. says

    I’m noy going to say specifically that, because that would be one of those nasty little totalizing epistemological statements about something that postmodern discourse doesn’t like much. Authorial intentionality has pretty much ceased to be a significant factor in literary analysis since the 30s or so, though, and most schools of interpretation and understanding disregard it, though for different reasons.There are three really important essays that talk about this — “The Intentional Fallacy”, by Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Death of the Author” by Barthes, and “What is an Author?” by Foucault. The particular reasons they don’t like authorial intentionality are as follows, roughly: Wimsatt and Beardsley think that authorial intentionality localizes a significant quantity of interpretation outside the text, and when you do that, you’re not really analyzing the text; Barthes thinks that a text is so layered with different meaning pulled from so many diffuse centers of culture that the final judgment of what something “means” always falls on the reader / critic, and Foucault argues that authorial intentionality dehistoricizes the text and bounds it to a single work or single experience, which overprivileges the subject and denies the cyclical relationship between our understanding of a text and our understanding of the author (how much of our understanding of who Shakespeare is as an author has to do with interpretation of his canon and that his work is expected to have a certain quality standard?)I’m personally a fan of Foucault’s view, but that’s a discussion about competing epistemologies in schools of literary theory. Nevertheless, the main point here is that sure, the author is allowed to provide an interpretation of her own work, but it’s no better than anyone else’s interpretation (and in fact is probably worse, because they have emotional connections to the creation process itself that make them oversentimentalize their work). Look at it this way: What do you think the major theme of Fahrenheit 451 is?

  48. says

    Have you actually listened to any serious discordant, avant-garde music? Or at least some death metal? Because a lot of the things you think are “discordant” and “unlistenable” and “noisy” are some of the most technical pieces of music around — music like that will expertly fly through different time signatures with complicated melodic and rhythmic structures that make you *think* it’s random, but if you knew the slightest bit of music theory, you’d understand how technical that stuff is.Compare to The Beatles or the Rolling Stones. Never could get off of a 4/4 beat or easy melodies (the Beatles got better about it late-career, but I seem to be the only person alive that like Revolution 9). So, not technical, but you probably like the Beatles more than The Dillinger Escape Plan (correct me if I’m wrong, I love meeting new DEP fans).So, I’d be very careful about saying that all art forever and ever is about making *you* go “wow” at some level. You’re being honest about the art you like, but it doesn’t stop being art and being meaningful for someone because it doesn’t meet your aesthetic tastes.

  49. jimmyboy99 says

    Hi Stephen: I like the argument – but I’m not persuaded that we disagree. If I listen to discordant music and it makes me go wow -then great! Sorry – I don’t know DEP – but then I wonder whether I would enjoy listening to it if it’s discordant? Discordant is jarring for my ear and I don’t enjoy it. So even if I was able to appreciate the technicality of the music (and that would definitely make me think – this is music: they are doing something clever and muscial here) I’d probably not choose to listen to it.I’ve done enough music in my life (and theory – including exams) to have a view (but not much more). I’m not saying art has to be aesthetically pleasing (though that’s great): it has to do something to me for me to want to look at it/ listen to it. But I’d agree: something that is technically well constructed is different from Tracey Emin’s bed for eg. That just appears to be a con trick for the stupid and gullible fashion victims in the world.I’ve know a lad who is a fairly successful Scottish painter (Ken Currie). He is considered to be pretty un-cool, boring and franky not with it in the ‘cool’ art world – becuse he’s a painter. The reality is his paintings are technically strong, highly thoughtful – often provocative – and really make you think or laugh or whatever. You’d not want one in your living room because they are mostly pretty dark subject wise. But I can really appreciate them because they have so much going on – and they cause me to have a reaction. I don’t have to try or go looking for meaning. It’s there and just blams into me.So called modern art very rarely causes me to have any emotional reaction – so, for me, it just isn’t in the same camp as great painting or sculpture. And I’d much rather we didn’t spend loads of public money on stuff which is unappealing to the masses as well…To be clear though: I’m not proposing a universal definition of art. But I am suggesting that some art appears to be an exercise in futility.Cheers

  50. f'a says

    merci mon ami- yours is the criticism here i value(and i would say jimmyboy99 is also playing pope,for by his reckoning, to a ‘master artist,'[with “some technical skill that I don’t have…”]there would be no other [good] art possible,i.e., aesthetic relativism(?).)that is v as if to sayevery one is a criticand if it matches the couchit’s good

  51. jimmyboy99 says

    Don’t be silly. I am not an artist – so require artists to show some skills that I don’t have. Were I an artist I would presumably appreciate the skills of others, when they had some.Love that idea that I am playing pope though. You still miss the point. Not trying to inflict my views on anyone else – other than to argue we should not waste public money on art that really does not do anything for most tax payers. Or if we are going to then please buy my drawings – I have as much right to the income as some.

  52. danielm says

    My excuse for being late to the party is having to catch up due to summer hols without the interwebs. now, to go for the…”jenny McCreights painting is a bold powerful statement of abstract positivism. It is the womb. It is life. It shouts ‘impregnate me, world, and bear my fruit’ in an unassailable triumph of creative lust. It is the world, the universe, the very fabric of life itself barely constrained by canvas and water colour. The painting wants you to make love to it, to touch and stroke it, to consume it with the passion of your eyes and make it your own.”why yes, yes I was going for creepy :)

  53. Bennettjed says

    Yeah….I’m an art major….This kind of thing is omnipresent in the art world…and it drives me completely insane.

  54. f'a says

    jimmyboy99, i really must be missing something…you’re not an artist and need to be shown skills, but if you were an artist you would appreciate skills – but then how would you know skills if you saw them – not being an artist?”Not trying to inflict my views…,” but you are sharing:”… floor mats are horrible to look at …””… discordant music is just horrible to listen to…,” versus:”Discordant is jarring for my ear and I don’t enjoy it,” which is a statement about your experience rather than a global value judgment.”You’d not want one in your living room…”how would you know, not being:- me?- or an artist? (despite offering up your drawings for sale); and do we actually spend very much tax dollars on art? especially compared to religious tax exemptions?and what point am i missing? – ‘if the product doesn’t make ‘you’ go wow …’ [or think], then that thing just isn’t communicating to you or evoking a similar internal experience for you as the maker had when creating it (or perhaps hoped to share) – or does everyone get to decide what is and isn’t art based solely on what they like (playing pope)?everyone has their ‘druthers – one can like what one wants and poo-poo whatever, but these ‘wtf’ discussions about “good” art sound just like creationists at a ‘you’re not a True Christian’ slapdown to me because too many people don’t seem to notice their conflation of value judgements for personal preferences and vice versa – honestly, i expect better from Jen and her readers.[but then, excuse me – i have never ever heard of an artist being ‘uncool’ for doing painting (the most commonly appreciated medium of art) – maybe i am from another planet…]one thing i do know – some human beings can’t do anything but make art. and some suffer because we can’t or won’t do marketable work just to become rich and famous, which doesn’t make it not-good or us worthless – which is how we can feel when people talk about art and artists like many of the posters on this article have.{btw – no one seems to have caught my gaffe – the Monty Python Pope sketch involved The Last Supper (with 3 Christs and a kangaroo), not Michelangelo – my bad.}peace

  55. jimmyboy99 says

    f’a – apologies – there’s no reply button on your last post – so here it is.First up: apologies on behalf of all of those of us posting on Jen’s blog who don’t come up to your standards. You keep on expecting more of us and maybe we will get to your level of enlightenment one day.You arguments appear to be circular: when I make a general point (“you’d not want one on your wall”) it is of course just that – a generality. Of course some people might well want one on their wall (though I’ve never met anyone who did and Ken seems to sell to galaries and wealthy private collectors not the ‘ignorant’ middle classes to put on their walls). You don’t like that because it doesn’t or might not apply to you. OK. You can always pick holes in a generalisation for a level of non-applicability. Well done.But when I make it personal to me, you don’t like my arguments because they conflate ‘value judgements for personal preferences ‘ – and don’t contain global value judgements.So I am definitely not trying to make any global value judgements about what is good art. I have never heard any such expressed that have a wide enough application to have any merit. ie there is no definition of what ‘good art’ is that I could believe in. All we have is our own view of what we like – sometimes as educated a little by someone who has something to tell us.However, that’s not to say that there are not valid comments to make about art. It’s just that they are (very) unlikely to ever approach any kind of universal acceptance. I would posit though that the modern art world that pushes Emin and the like needs either to explain to those of us who have an interest but just don’t get it, what there is to get here. Or – as I postulate – accept that actually it’s a load of bull to push this in the same category 9’good art’ if you like) someone who has done something technically competent and potentially aesthetically appealing as well.But I’m not forcing anyone to go along with the view – I’m pushing it out there on the net. I’m not ‘slapping anyone down’. It’s a silly, and defensive comparison to make in fact. I’m not telling you what good art is: I’m asking those who believe that Emin (her usefulness as an example continues) is a good artist, to explain clearly what we are missing.Having occasionally used a piece of charcoal to draw – and yesterday I got up early with my little boy and we made a scultpure of a woman on the beach where we live – I know I am not an artist. There are others, who attempting the same thing, would do it in a way which I found much more pleasing. They would be technically much better at it. People looking would largely prefer their scultpure.So I’d say definitively I am not an artist in any meaningful sense. But I know enough to see that others are technically more accomplished than me and produce art which I (and most of the world) find to be ‘better’ than anything I can produce.I live in the UK where we do spend public money on art – and some of it really does upset a significant majority of the public, or alienates the public – which seems pretty undemocratic to me.So – at the end: if a piece of art doesn’t speak to anyone but those in a small grouo of so called experts, then, if those experts believe this is ‘good art’ – and want to persuade the doubters, they need to be able to explain what it is we are missing. And they need to do it in accessible language – not post-modern bull. Otherwise I continue to call Emporers new clothes.And definitely: wander round a European art school, and you will see that painters are currently seriously looked down on.

  56. f'a says

    I SEE THE PROBLEMi have been speaking at cross-purposesby misapprehending our uncoordinatedcategorizations of: art, good art, making art,free-market capitalism and advertisingi shall attempt to address your concerns momentarilyand hopefully my failure to communicatethough i do wish to emphasizeyour art-making on the beachwith your childwas more valuably spent Timethan any one else’s “Art”thank you for sharing that momentand reminding me …

  57. f'a says

    MY SHORT ANSWERQ: Emperor’s New ClothesA: dadaPROOF:Pre-Modern Art: Breaking the RulesDada: Throwing away the RulesModern Art: Pushing boundaries – exploring possibilities (Demonstration Phase)Post-Modern Art: “Okay kids, let’s see what you can do!”THEREFORE:Clothes do not exist (everyone is naked) and personal expression (process) is the only valid form of Art.NOTE ON CAPITALISM:Don’t want to make your own? “We’ll sell you some of whatever you like!”Don’t know what you like? “We’ll tell you!”Why is it in a museum and not a sales gallery? “Well, we’re the experts so you’ll have to take our word for it, unless you can logically refute dada. No, honestly, we’re bored as hell with fashion too. Seriously, someone save us.”MORAL:Everything new is old again. (People Are People – Reinventing the Wheel)Q.E.D.<like> to know more?</like>

  58. f'a says

    {pardon sir – badly put}{may i rephrase my earlier reply}kind sir, you are,without a doubt,a patient cunning linguistwith an apparent appreciation ofor tolerance forsoliloquous middlebrow stuffi thank you for your partici-pation(and what’s more,(you obviously know how(to treat a female impersonator)[’… get a room …’]{danke, m’sieur}<curtsy>{may i recite another}{the name of this piece is}c’est la me^me lune (pour sur tout)OR Language Arts viz. Poetic Licenseahem …<like> to continue?</like></curtsy>

  59. f'a says

    ((… hmm,… i’m confused now … did ‘i’ ‘like’ this accidentally? or was it some one else … i get bewildered by these run on columns some times – and whether i’m liking the post above or below – it should be obvious, but i know how i am … … i think i’ll just wait a little longer, just in case …))

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