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Just about .... and more


A few years ago, I took my husband to the Tate Art Gallery in St. Ives, Cornwall. The building is pretty impressive. It overlooks the sea, and catches the light of the sun as it travels around the Bay.We arrived early and found various piles of dust and dirt as we moved up the stairs."Wouldn't you think they would have cleared that up before the place opened," I remarked.We arrived on the first floor and along the side of the wall in one of the galleries was another enormous pile of dust and dirt."What's all that dirt doing lying around here?" I asked the attendant."That's not dirt," she said with a sniff. "That's part of the exhibition."She directed me to the details of the artist near the pile of .... art.It didn't quite end there. In another room our eyes were assaulted by piles of rotten carrots placed strategically on the black tiles of what looked like a large checkers' board; the white tiles were untarnished by the putrid vegetables. The "work" was titled something like "Desperation."I haven't quite looked at carrots in the same way again.The "mother" Gallery, the Tate (Modern) in London, has now found a creative way to get rid of the dirt piles and carrots. A large crack, with a title, has appeared in one of the gallery floors. You would be forgiven for thinking it might be called "Cracked," or "Art is not all it's cracked up to be," but it isn't. It's titled "Shibboleth," and it's supposed to symbolize racial and class divisions. Apparently it's getting great reviews. I know I'm probably missing the point somewhere along the line, so maybe I need to be enligtened. When do cracks and piles of dirt turn into pieces of art? I've noticed several cracks in my garage floor today as well as piles of dirty salty grime (leftovers from last week's ice,) and I'm now looking for a suitable title for a possible masterpiece. I know I might have to do some rearranging to get the full artistic effect but I'll give it a try. How will I know if it's art? I wonder if I need to get a licence from the City in order to charge a fee? Any ideas about what I should call it, and what it might represent?


David Lignell 10 years, 6 months ago

Hello Eileen,

Here's a quote I found during my morning Google run:

[Abstract art is] a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered. Al Capp US cartoonist (1909 - 1979)

I have seen a lot of abstract that I enjoy, so I'm probably among the "utterly bewildered." In fact, I'm quite sure I can add an ignorance label to my name that will cause many artists to shake their collective heads in dismissal. Still, there is much that I just don't understand.

However, your investigation of dirt piles and rotten carrots has prompted a wonderful idea on how to rid the garage remnants of spring cleaning.

David Klamet 10 years, 6 months ago

Although I understand that the as one becomes more experienced in any area (painting, sculpture, wine...), ones tastes change and become what some call "sophisticated".

I knew someone who panted water-colors, mostly still life. She once showed me a painting that she said would be enjoyed by most people, but not by artists. Then she showed me another that she and her artist friends enjoyed. I must admit that she was correct. The first one spoke to me in a way I can't quite explain, but I did not care for the "sophisticated" one.

Sometimes I wonder if some in the artistic community share an "inside joke" to see if what ridiculous works they can foist on the general public as serious art.

Alison Carter 10 years, 6 months ago

Eileen, Once again you have written another laugh-out-loud blog. Thanks, I needed that.

Ronda Miller 10 years, 5 months ago

Eileen - the word "encrusted" comes in mind for your dirty snow and ice piece.

I have seen a couple of different shows about pulling one over on artists by having two and three year olds do some paintings and have them judged by "experts". They could not tell the difference.

This reminds us of how beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder and that how one thing might appeal to one, it may not to another.

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