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  • Sameera Vyas

The Eye Of The Beholder

Modern Art: the bane of most artists everywhere. When three lines in shaky pencil can sell for more than thousands, how much is one’s painstakingly sketched and shaded art even worth?


Art is meant to evoke emotion in the observer. However, when all you can think about is how the artist just splattered paint on a canvas and called it a day, you cannot see the meaning behind it as the artist intended.


Modern art is typically marked by vague lines, sharp shapes, and abstract pieces. Bold colors and physical things are clear markers of modern art, as is the constant mocking of it. On the face of it, it’s a simple art form – and barely that. Anyone can paint a canvas red and add some primary-coloured stripes [á la Who’s Afraid Of Red, Yellow, And Blue? (1966-70) by Barnett Newman]. However, it takes someone with a proper artistic eye to see how or why these colors were used together, and why it was made in the first place. (Primary colors were the only ones that looked appropriate in the painting and complemented the red; the painting was of four completed to challenge certain dogmatic principles of what art should be at the time.)


However, most people – largely other artists – still think that modern art is the “lazy way” to go out. ‘Real’ art is meant to be a toil, a struggle for perfection. Above all, it is meant to show something, if only “I made this, I was here”. Modern art often subverts this expectation to go the deeper route, opting for the hidden messages left to be found as secrets or clues by the bystanders rather than to be almost brazenly displayed. Modern art is all vague layers and abstraction whereas other art is usually to the point and direct with its meaning.


Especially the artistic movement of Modernism, which has been the one to most spark controversy among others. Largely centered around abstract shapes, lines, and bold colors, people creating in that style opt for a philosophical piece with more “meaning” than a general sense. Some other modern art movements are the most popular, Cubism (made so by Picasso); Fauvism; Surrealism; Dadaism; and Expressionism (as exhibited in the well-known painting The Scream - 1893 - by Edvard Munch).


People say that modern art is not only a waste of time but also money, but various other artists and collectors would beg to differ. The deeper meaning behind many, many pieces of artwork is either debated over or admired. Modern art serves as a release for some pent-up feelings, lurking in the painting and waiting to be found out. Sometimes, the meaning might simply be that the artist was bored. Or, like in the case of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962), it might just be that they liked what was being painted. In that case, soup.


Regardless, no matter your stance on modern art, one has to admit that it is an interesting art form. The art's only “true beauty” depends upon, as the famous words go, the eye of the beholder.


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