Modern Art? You’re having a laugh aren’t you?!
Call me a philistine, call me an uncultured oaf if you will, but in return, I will call it like it is: a mirror on the wall is just that – a mirror on the wall. It is not art!
No seriously; this is what I found in the Tate Modern in London when I visited there this summer. I kid you not, I stood agape watching the pretentious types stopping and contemplating what amounted to a bathroom cabinet stuck on the wall.
It’s actually from 1965, and is titled “The Big Picture” Untitled Painting, by Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden – wait? It took TWO people to come up with this?!
Apparently it turns a: ‘century-old convention upside-down by replacing the painting’s surface with a mirror. Rather than look at an image of the artist’s making, viewers are now confronted by themselves, thereby questioning a long-held notion of painting transcending reality.’
Sure enough two American tourists ardently trying to take a good picture of it – were loudly exclaiming (yeah, yeah I’m playing up the stereotypes I know, so?) to each other ‘brilliant, it’s so modernistic,’ ‘yeah, it really makes you think, doesn’t it?’
‘Think’ – really? You know what I ‘think’ now I see a mirror: ‘How much could I flog this to the National Gallery for?’
Now look, it’s not like I don’t appreciate art – well I would have gone into the Tate Modern in the first place otherwise – and I did see some genuinely inspiring and intriguing stuff like the car engine covered in copper sulphate by Roger Hiorns (made me think of man-made stuff being reclaimed by nature) and Richard Hamilton’s Hommage a Chrysler Corp from 1957 that explored the advertising cliché linking woman and cars – their forms having merged in this painting.
Okay that’s car stuff (which obviously resonates with me) but I really found the Russian Revolutionary Posters fascinating. They could only be described as Strong Art and I was particularly fascinated by one that appealed to the ‘Comrade Mussulman’ to saddle up and join the army of all oppressed and working people.
Then of course there’s the pop art like the iconic Andy Warhol and of course the comic art of Roy Lichtenstein.
Okay maybe I’m a little stuck in my ways and old skool, but when I stumbled upon what appeared to be a piece of ventilation shaft, I immediately looked up to see if the Tate Modern (formerly a power station) was falling apart and this had fallen from the ceiling. Not a bit of it. It was actually an exhibit. You’ve got to be kidding me!