It’s a pretty well known fact that modern art is bad. It’s supposed to be bad. Once, the purpose of art was to transcend the ugliness of this world and reach for the virtue of beauty, but that’s all done away with. One of the most heinous crimes committed by traditional art was preaching beauty was the same as good, but there are ugly things in this world that, when seen through a different lens, can also be beautiful. This is very true. Rembrandt took vagrants, elderly people, outcasts in general, and painted them in such captivating, ecstatic beauty while still retaining their shabbiness, wrinkles, and age.
Modern art doesn’t do that.
Instead, artists like Duchamp, Manet, Jeff Koons, and so on seek only to desecrate and offend, not the artistic academics who hold the power over what is and isn’t considered art, mind you, but people who love beautiful art and long for meaning and beauty in their own lives who’ve long since given up on the art world after what the cesspool it’s become. They stole art from us. They distorted it so the only ones who can enjoy it are those who are “clever enough” to understand it. Of course modern art must be fought, must be rebelled against. By their (the Academics’) own definition, the ones in power are only there to lord it over the rest of us, and stole said power from the rest of us. Why should they be surprised if their precious and meaningful world of modern art was suddenly toppled down by an angry mob to tear down their vision and replace it with a more caring and brighter ideology?
You see how evil that last paragraph was? How resentful?
Some of you might have enjoyed reading it (I sure enjoyed writing it), or a version of it where “modern art” was replaced by some other ideology you don’t like.
I’ve been writing (albeit not often enough) about this for years. I’ve always loved art. I love looking at it and making it. If I was to live alone anywhere in the world, it would be Florence or Rome where art and beauty is literally everywhere. I naively hoped that the Art School would nurture that love. Instead, all I got was snobbishness, disdain, and hatred from the teachers and students for any Classical art with a glimmer of hope and beauty. I felt personally and spiritually injured by these people. As a result, many of my past blog posts have been attacks. They were criticisms that I was either to scared or too incoherent to convey in the classroom. While it was cathartic, it wasn’t helpful. Not in the slightest.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to Roger Scruton and G.K. Chesterton. These were two men whose beliefs I felt were similar to mine. Roger Scruton, in his almost pompous, Oxford-educated demeanor, also believed modern art was an enemy to civilization, but he effectively portrayed a great love for the beauty of art.
Somehow, around the same time of discovering this wonderful man, I also started listening to an audio book by G.K. Chesterton. His words were concise, intelligent, but also filled with a great love.
He did criticize rationalists, people like Nietzsche, but rather than in a disdainful tone, his criticisms were a mixture of light humor and sadness. To him, these weren’t people who were evil and just wanted to watch the world burn, like how we typically think of those we think are our enemies, but instead, pitiable (but still loveable) people who are missing out on a great joy and mystery in life.
The following words came into my head, they weren’t anything that Chesterton or Scruton explicitly said, they just kind of formed in my brain on their own:
“Love your friends more than you hate your enemies.”
I was thinking about these words, and I thought to myself,
“Do I really love art? Or do I just hate modern art? And if I do love art, do I love the art I love to look at and make… more than the art I was demanded to accept by my teachers?”
And, to be honest. No. I don’t think I did. This was a scary thing to learn about myself. But I really had a lot hate and anger built up. For YEARS. It took me this long to realize it wasn’t doing me any good. I wasted so much energy on my hate than I didn’t have a whole lot left over for my love. I myself desecrated the art I loved by thinking “It’s better than garbage being made today.”
There’s so much ugliness, guys. There really is. There’s war, there’s tyrants, there’s people online who say nasty things they never say to that person… in person. In our political climate, all I see are people finally having an excuse to destroy, not people who really care or want to change things. Every day, we just want to use the misery of our own lives and ruin it for everyone else. I don’t have to be that person. Neither should you. I hope you’re not, or at least on your way.
If you want to fight modern art, or ugliness, or hate, or anything that’s damaging to this world, then think about what you love, and be the best of what you love. Be kind, make things that bring meaning to others. Don’t hide behind your meaning (and computer screen) as an excuse to hurt people or tear things down. There is ugliness in people, but there’s beauty in them too. When people see you acting this way, and that you fervently believe and act out your meaning, then it will inspire them to do the same. If they don’t agree with your ideas, but you don’t attack those people or tear them down, they’ll be more likely to listen to you.
And yes, there are truly terrible, psychopathic, malevolent people out there. With that in mind, love your family and your friends more than you hate the psychopaths. And certainly love those in your life more than those who disagree with you.