Why Does Abstract Art Suck?

As I was flipping through my movie channels searching for a film to help me enhance my holiday vacation, I came across(not for the first time) a documentary film called “My Kid can Paint That” which is a film by a little 4-year-old girl named Marla Olmstead that happens to paint these fantastic abstract paintings(naturally) that have sold for literally tens of thousands of dollars, and basically from my viewpoint, the film uses the story of Marla and her family as a window into the good and the bad of what has become modern art, and more importantly modern abstract art.

But I don’t want to write a review about this film, or really anything about it I would rather use it as a jumping off point to write about how modern abstract art has been and probably always will be viewed by the general public and even the most esteemed of art critics and patrons alike: Abstract art sucks! That seems to be the general consensus spoken in layman’s terms. Of course highly paid critics or wealthy patrons will have a more technical and proper criticism when discussing why they think abstract art sucks so much.

But why does abstract art suck?

Okay many people including myself loves the wide range and possibilities of abstraction in both the ideas and physical execution of art that isn’t always so easily laid out to the viewers. But when the every day measurements and standards of excellence are applied to a lot of art being made today like “technical skill” and “time consumption” a great amount of modern art can be seen as being of low quality.

Of course there are wonderful abstract artists that take a lot of time painting or composing a work that does involve a great amount of technical skill, but thats what makes modern contemporary art so unique and wonderful… it’s diversity. It usually takes me no longer than 3 hours to compose one of my larger works, it might take another abstract artist over a year to compose something similar….

But I digress because I still haven’t answered the question of why I think(or most people) abstract art sucks? But in a way I did, because the answer is the diversity, the scope, the complexities of the art being made today. Let’s face it, most people prefer classical painting because the story is laid out easy to see in a portrait, landscape etc. there is no mystery in classical painting…. and people like what they can understand.

On the flip side the average art viewer assumes that modern abstract art has no story simply because it’s not in front of their faces. They(the viewer) will have to either research the artist that created the work to find out the story, or more preferable(at least to me) is that the viewer creates a story on his own using the work as a template for his/her imagination. The diversity and complexities of todays art has led to art becoming generally more mysterious than in previous movements or generations.

Thus the animosity, anger, and eventual hatred of abstract art ensues, when I hear “that painting sucks” or “I hate abstract art” I really think the person saying these things are saying: “I don’t understand abstract art and I think these artists are trying to fool me”. A lot of them are, they have been jaded my society or critical viewers, or they are just really pretentious snobs who feel that their art is too good for the masses therefor they must use their art to insult their audiences. But a lot of them are not, they lack the desire(or the skill) to tell a straight forward story, yet they feel like they have a story to tell, they have something to say.

We aren’t trying to fool you, we aren’t trying to con you with badly composed, unskilled art. I think artists are always trying to express, convey, and record feelings and thoughts of the same feelings and thoughts we all feel each and everyday about everything we experience. And sometimes its better to construct visual poetry rather than constructing a visual novel.



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2 responses to “Why Does Abstract Art Suck?

  1. Rob Norton

    I think you have valid points. However, when I stroll through the modern or contemporary section of a museum or gallery, it is ultimately a gut reaction by which I decide what’s good or bad. There are technical guidelines, or rather a measure of aesthetics, that could serve as a metric, and if I wish to intellectualize it, that serves well. Aesthetics is the realm of the philosophers and critics/theorists, though, and can often be unintelligible, unnecessarily so. Ultimately, I think great art hits someone on all fronts: the mind, the gut, the soul. Mediocre art just won’t do that. I can’t tell you why I prefer some Picasso to some Kandinsky, or why one set of colors will speak to me in ways another can’t. Overall, though, I prefer the classics because they speak of a tradition I identify with, rather than the alienation/relativism/humanism/secularism that I see in too much art of today.

    • Thanks Rob! You make some strong points as well, I agree that good art invades several fronts of the viewer. I also agree that it is usually a gut reaction from almost all viewers when viewing an artwork…. I suppose the idea behind the blog/article is that most people(not you obviously) are quick to dismiss most contemporary abstract art without seeing that it can be well composed and made with skill in its own right. Rather than saying “abstract art sucks” you can say it does not align as well with my personal taste as classical painting does(as you stated). I feel criticism is less thoughtful of abstract art because it is assumed not as much thought is put into works of that nature and even if I wasn’t primarily an abstract artist I would feel that was wrong.

      But I do agree that there is an overall sense of alienation that spreads the divide between the modern artist and modern art viewer, I tried to bring that up a bit in the blog. Too many artists(some I know, some I don’t) do try to trick and alienate viewers at a highly pretentious level, I feel good art and good artists are accessible and there are too many artists today trying to be as vague as possible. Too many people forget that art is not an elitist enterprise but a valuable necessity of civilization.

      Thanks for reading đŸ™‚

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