Modern Art (July 30)

I went to the Walker last week with my mom.  I  had promised her a mom/daughter day as a way to thank her for looking after our house while we have been traveling.  And for doing unplanned favors like receiving large boxes of wine from UPS.  The intent was for her to decide what we would do, but she’s not very good at making decisions.  (She will be the first to admit this – I have to help her decide what to order when we go to a restaurant)  I am not a big fan of modern art (that’s an understatement) but I love the sculpture garden and the restaurant gets great reviews.  Plus I haven’t been there since the Walker completed its big expansion 5 years ago.  In fact, the last time I remember going was to a Picasso exhibit when I was in high school.  I figured it was about time to give them another chance.

Bad idea.

First of all, it was raining/drizzling the day we went so we quickly walked through just a small part of the sculpture garden.  Enough for me to be impressed by how much it’s matured but not enough to really enjoy it.  Second, it was FREEZING cold in all of the galleries.  I get that you need to keep the art climate controlled, but refrigerated?  My poor mom had a sweater on and was still miserable.  I felt like I was in a meat locker.  Third, modern art sucks.  Really, really sucks.

I put art into one of three categories:

Stuff I like.  It may or may not be great, but I would hang it on my wall if I could afford it.  Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh in the unaffordable category.  Robert Ransom, Edie Abnet, Barbara Gurwitz in the affordable category.  (I have paintings from all 3 – Google them if you want an inside look at my personal taste)

Stuff I appreciate.  I recognize the talent that created it, but I wouldn’t hang it on my wall.  Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns.  Lots of lesser known artists that I couldn’t name.  Of course this is just personal taste, like music or interior design.  I don’t expect everything in a museum to appeal to me personally, but I can still appreciate the artistry behind the work.

Crap.  The kind of stuff that only seems to be art to galleries and art history majors.  A white canvas with words spelled out in masking tape.  An arrangement of junky clocks in a corner.  A plastic ice cream soda cup.  I don’t think video qualifies as art even when you fill 9 screens with it.  Damien Hirst does a lot of stuff that I don’t think qualifies as art.  Hey, if you want a cow that’s been severed in half and preserved in formaldehyde in your living room, go ahead.  But don’t call it art.

Unfortunately, a large part of the Walker’s collection falls squarely into category three.  So I don’t think I’ll be going there again except to visit the sculpture garden and eat in the restaurant.  Which is awesome.

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