Quite the spectacle: Why I think contemporary art is a joke


Ian Kuzola

An art piece by Jo Baer hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts. The piece includes three blank canvases with a trim of color around the edges.

Three. Blank. Canvases.

An art piece by Jo Baer, taking up an entire wall in the Museum of Fine Arts, sits next to the beautiful “Impressionist Landscapes” by Claude Monet. The difference in time, effort, technique and vision is staggering.

When I saw this eyesore, I snickered. All I could think about was the common defense to contemporary art:

“You just didn’t understand it.”

I didn’t like contemporary art because my plebeian brain simply “didn’t understand its true meaning.” If only I were more educated, more in tune with culture, more open minded, more sophisticated – then I, too, could appreciate its beauty.

Yes, how could I miss the nuance in three. Blank. Canvases.

When contemporary art can be literally anything, people should have the right to think art is bad.

From an unmade room to a banana taped to a wall, you either like it or you don’t. But to invalidate someone else’s view on art because “they don’t understand it” is unbefitting. It should not be the audience’s fault for not understanding, or for disliking the piece. Especially when contemporary art is based on a visual and cerebral experience, its “meaning” should be more than subjective nonsense.

A person mistakes a clock for an art piece in a contemporary art gallery. They try to find a meaning about it when there is clearly none. (Graphic by Ian Kuzola)

This monkey fooled avant garde art experts into thinking it was painted by an expert painter. One critic said “Brassau [the monkey] paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer.” When a monkey can fool avant garde art experts then you must realize that the meaning of an art piece is subjective.
However, some contemporary art hanging in modern art museums are only displayed because of their monetary, not artistic, value. Investors will donate, or partially donate, over speculated artworks to galleries or museums giving themselves huge tax reductions.

As a result, the laymen seeing these aimless pieces are left trying to figure out the meaning of pointless tax breaks hanging in galleries.

A close up of an art piece by Jo Baer hanging in the Museum of Fine Arts. (Ian Kuzola)

Like the invisible “artwork” that sold for $18,000. It’s nothing. Just empty space. The buyer can see art that no one else can, and that is true in some sense, because no one can see it at all. The whole point of the art piece is that it lives in his imagination. The “meaning” is whatever he wants it to be at any given moment, which strikes surprisingly close to most “meanings” in contemporary art.

Maybe the invisible art does speak to him. It’s completely subjective, after all.
Good for him, but I interpret it as total garbage.

I interpret contemporary in general art as pretentious nonsense. A fraud, created by elitist, eccentric schmucks.

I like art. But when I see nothing on three canvases it makes me like it a little less. Not all contemporary is awful; some are interactive and others are quite clever, but most are a long shot from Leonardo Davinci’s “Mona Lisa.”