Making Sense of Modern “Art”

How have I lived this long without reading Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land? Check this out. He puts in words precisely what is wrong with today's 'art'.

"Because the world has gone nutty and contemporary art always paints the spirit of its times. Rodin did his major work in the tail end of the nineteenth century and Hans Christian Andersen antedated him by only a few years. Rodin died early in the twentieth centu­ry, about the time the world started flipping its lid … and art along with it."


"Rodin’s successors noted the amazing things he had done with light and shadow and mass and com­position – whether you see it or not – and they copied that much. Oh, how they copied it! And extended it. What they failed to see was that every major work of the master told a story and laid bare the human heart. Instead, they got involved with ‘design’ and became contemptuous of any painting or sculpture that told a story – sneering, they dubbed such work ‘literary’ – a dirty word. They went all out for abstractions, not deigning to paint or carve any thing that resembled the human world."


Jubal shrugged. “Abstract design is all right – for wallpaper or linoleum. But art is the process of evok­ing pity and terror, which is not abstract at all but very human. What the self styled modern artists are doing is a sort of unemotional pseudo-intellectual masturbation … whereas creative art is more like intercourse, in which the artist must seduce – render emotional – his audience, each time. These laddies who won’t deign to do that – and perhaps can’t – of course lost the public. If they hadn’t lobbied for endless subsidies, they would have starved or been forced to go to work long ago. Because the ordinary bloke will not voluntarily pay for ‘art’ that leaves him unmoved – if he does pay for it, the money has to be conned out of him, by tax­es or such."


"You know, Jubal, I’ve always wondered why I didn’t give a hoot for paintings or statues – but I thought it was something missing in me, like color blindness."


"Mmm, one does have to learn to look at art, just as you must know French to read a story printed in French. But in general it’s up to the artist to use language that can be understood, not hide it in some pri­vate code like Pepys and his diary. Most of these jok­ers don’t even want to use language you and I know or can learn … they would rather sneer at us and be smug, because we ‘fail’ to see what they are driving at. If in­deed they are driving at anything – obscurity is usually the refuge of incompetence."

This is why most 'art' is offensive, incomprehensible, or outright pornographic. Consequently, most people are trained to think that art is inaccessible to anyone but the 'educated' elite. They never get to see real art, so they never know what they are missing. In the end, we gain a desensitized culture that is accustomed to never being moved by anything, for which life is cheap, and nothing is sacred except meaningless 'sacred cows'.


Patriotic dude Follower of Christ Keeper of the Truth