These Blue Splatters Mean [insert pretentious interpretation here]

Over winter break I did something completely out of the ordinary. I went to a contemporary art museum. And, get this: I went voluntarily.


Yeah, that’s right. I devoted my time to perusing surreal pieces of art that I did not understand even remotely, incapable of grasping the point of painting a single, large magenta spot on an expansive gray canvas. Modern art is a smidge confounding to me and, though I’m hardly an authority on the topic, I feel I have the right to carelessly estimate my opinion of the art I so miserably fail to comprehend. I may be ridiculously uninformed and shamelessly crass, but bear with me.

I’ll just jump right in. What is art? That’s a pretty complicated question. I like to think that, as a self-appointed member of Walter Johnson’s student cultural intelligentsia (read: as a self-validating, arrogantly pompous douche bag), I can provide a solid estimation: art is what we decide it is. Though this observation may be unashamedly obtuse, it’s rather true in its uncomplicated, albeit somewhat dim, essence.

More important, however, is whether we can distinguish between what is great art and what is driveling, uninspired nonsense. Granted, the idea that there is ‘good art’ can certainly be called into question as well. But I remain firm in my belief that some art can justly be considered pretentious and, as such, superficial. Take, for instance, an exhibit I toured at the art museum I went to. Inside the hallowed galleries of the Walker Art Center in St. Paul, Minn., there was a controversial piece headlining the organization’s current exhibition: Tetsumi Kudo’s “Philosophy of Impotence.” This exhibit was supposedly meant to inspire active discourse and revelatory conversations on “the pathetic despair of human efforts.”

The most intelligent response it provoked from my confused family members and me? The rather blunt observation of my little sister who wondered aloud, “Are those penises?!”

Kudo had strung ratty, taped phalluses all along the wall, ceiling and floor of a section of the gallery to dichotomously represent both chrysalises and the male anatomy. The gallery’s notes exalted Kudo’s groundbreaking work, praising his daring approach to the meaning behind his piece (or lack thereof). In reality, however, the exhibition was pointlessly offensive, superficially arrogant and, most of all, dumb as hell.

It seems that modern artists fall under two categories: those that create something of inherent value and those that proffer garbage feigning to be of similar significance. Art should not be idiotic material designed merely to reiterate an artist’s self-affirmed “intellectuality.” Art should be unfettered by obscurity and ludicrous meaning. Not that contemporary artists must trivialize their work to appeal to the ignorant public (i.e. me), but art should be understandable for those outside of the realm of art intellectuals.

So there’s my entirely unfounded estimation of contemporary art. I just might do it again and visit another art museum to crudely assess the art’s message.

This white stripe, what does it symbolize? Oh something about despair and impotence and Jesus and Kirstie Alley and chastity.

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