September 15, 2011

What's Your Definition of Art?

According to the dictionary, "art" is the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Art is also very subjective and there's a multitude of artistic styles to please just about everyone's ideal of what is beautiful and appealing.

Our visit to the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris really challenged my ideals of art. The Centre houses one of the largest collections of 20th century European modern art and features works by many familiar artists such as Matisse, Picasso, and Kandinsky.

The building itself is quite contemporary and is somewhat at odds with the surrounding structures.  Under the rules of the design competition, the architectural project had to meet the criteria of interdisciplinarity, freedom of movement and flow, and an open approach to exhibition areas. The competition was won by two young architects: the Italian Renzo Piano and British designer Richard Rogers who proposed a constraint-free architecture in the spirit of the 1960s. The supporting structure and movement and flow systems, such as the escalators, were relegated to the outside of the building, thereby freeing up interior space for museum and activity areas. Colour-coded ducts are attached to the building's west façade, as a kind of wrapping for the structure: blue for air, green for fluids, yellow for electricity cables and red for movement and flow.

Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of modern art. I can appreciate the beauty in some works, but I seem to be drawn more towards more classical artists like Monet, Degas, and Michelangelo. For me, paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs not only need to meet my ideal of "what is beautiful" or "appealing" but also speaks to me or stirs some emotion inside of me.

Some of the works we saw at the Pompidou Centre I would say didn't fit into my ideal of what art "is" but I could definitely appreciate the work for other reasons, such as technique or cleverness.

Here are some of the works that stirred me in some way:

From afar, this mosaic painting became a portrait; up close, it was hundreds of small paintings.

I loved the imagery in this painting and the surrealism of objects appearing to be visible behind a window pane.

This was a beautiful hand-embroidered tapestry that was made using 84 different colors of thread.

Detail of the tapestry.

Soot painting by Juri Georg Dokopul. Dokoupil developed the technique of Soot Paintings, painting projected images with soot of a burning candle onto a blank canvas hanging flat from the ceiling.

Painting by Henri Matisse.

My collection of pictures from Georges Pompidou Centre can be viewed here.

There were some works of "art" that really had me shaking my head though, or thinking "I could do that." As an example, there was an entire room that had nothing but red-painted boards (like 4'x8' fence boards) leaning against the walls. Or a large canvas painted entirely black. One of Sean's favorite "what the hell?" works of art was this piece:

It was literally a string of Christmas lights hung on the wall. Apparently it's "art" to someone!

À bientôt!

1 comment:

  1. These are great pictures! And I'm with Sean on his remark about the Xmas light cord artwork. Seriously?!