Friday, August 20, 2021

Art Appreciation

Many years ago, I went to a travelling exhibition of Modern Art from the collection of some stupendously rich person, I forget exactly who.

There was a wide range of stuff there, from the late C19th impressionists up to the action-painters of the 1950s.

In almost every case, seeing the works in the real, rather than in a photograph, was absolutely stunning — the colours and textures shone out, effects that a photograph simply could not catch.

The exceptions were the action-painters like Pollock and De Kooning. I understand the ideas, the concepts behind the movement, but to me, in real life, the works themselves were just... meh. There was nothing about them that moved me any more than a photograph, except maybe their scale — they were pretty big. But they affected me no more than wallpaper in a hotel lobby.

This interests me, because I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly why it is that they don't affect me. It's not because of their extreme abstraction — Rothko's work, for example, is profoundly abstract, but I absolutely love it.

It's a puzzle.