Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Understanding Modern Art

I believe that only if the artist believes his work to be art, is it truth.

It can be interpreted that an existential artist is an artist who believes their work to be about what existentialists believe to be subjective, such as emotions relating to freedom, regret, guilt and pain, religion and beliefs as opposed to analyzing objective knowledge, language or science.1 There are a number of artists who could be categorised as being ‘existential’; I have chosen to discuss some ideas in regard to these artists, by reflecting this upon their practises in later posts.

According to William Barrett, ‘anyone who attempts to gain a unified understanding of modern art as a whole is bound to suffer the uncomfortable sensation of having fallen into a thicket of brambles.’2 We find ourselves arguing over what art is, theories of art, definitions of art, philosophies relating to art, what constitutes a work of art, what is an artist, what is the aesthetic value of authentic art; the aesthetic value of truth, what is truth or authenticity in relation to works of art and how do we discover it, how can we come to terms with it?

We find ourselves occasionally banging our heads against invisible walls built up by historians, critics, philosophers, artists and writers of the past. We’re constantly attempting to justify our own practises, trying to understand what it is we do and why it is we do it. Every word a brick, every paragraph the mortar cementing those bricks we have to smash through in order to feel the warm sun kissed glow of realisation, of aspiration, of inspiration behind those walls.

1. (Accessed 5th November 2011)
2. Barrett, William, Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy (New York: Anchor Books, 1958) 42.