So here’s something on the long list of things I don’t understand: abstract art.
It’s that age-old question, really. “What makes art, art?”
I was discussing it with my mother the other day, because she doesn’t get abstract art, either. My father loves it, which is a source of fascination for us. The last time I went to the art museum, I stood in front of a large canvas with several blocks of red painted on it. I didn’t understand it at all.
My father told me, “There’s nothing to get.”
Maybe that’s my problem. I keep expecting art to say things to me because that’s what I’ve been told. “Great art speaks to you.” Okay, well, something that looks like a guy got bored halfway through choosing a paint color for the den doesn’t really say anything to me. Other than he decided he didn’t want to paint the room red. Which is valid. That wouldn’t be very relaxing.
Art has an intangible that I have yet to describe accurately. It’s the thing that makes time stand still as I stare at Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. It’s the thing that makes the Mona Lisa so enigmatic, even after all of these years. It’s what makes van Gogh’s works so enrapturing. Who am I to say that that indescribable Thing isn’t found in stripes of paint?
Duchamp had his Ready-Mades, the things he declared to be art because he said they were art. And I understand his point. My dad sees the Thing in Duchamp’s Fountain. I see the statement, but not necessarily the art. Just as I see the Thing in , whereas my father just sees a nice painting.
There is no solid definition for art. Which is a fact that I love. It means that people are going to come up with all sorts of beautifully creative works, and we will argue and discuss them until the end of our days. And maybe that’s the why of it. Art is a spark to light the flame of conversation and keep the world aglow with ideas.
And what a beautiful flame it is.