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Is it art?

October 12, 2011

Went to see a great play the other day, Pitmen Painters, at the tiny little Duchess Theatre hiding behind the skirts of Covent Garden, just off the Strand. I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of this group of painters before, who all came from the same colliery and took up art almost on a whim, to become the darlings of the art establishment.

The play managed to be both moving and funny, with some great impassioned performances, and said a lot about why people produce art in the first place, and what it means to the onlooker. The main thrust seems to be that the point of art is to generate emotion in its viewer, which makes me feel guilty, as ever, that I just don’t ‘get’ some artists, particularly Rothko. I wish I did. I feel as though I’m tone deaf when I stand in front of his canvases. I know there’s a lot going on there, but all I see is a dingy bit of paint which would take the average toddler five seconds to complete. I read recently of his first exhibition in the UK in the 1950s, when viewers stumbled around the gallery, dazed by his enormous canvases, some moved to tears. I’m sure if I’d been there I’d have done a quick in and out, and popped round the corner for coffee. Ah well. Maybe one day.

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  • Rosie Scribble October 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I have to say I like it, although I’m not really sure why. I think it’s the colours although I’m not sure I’d particularly want to buy it.

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Ah, you just like it because it matches my blog header! Go on, admit it …..x

  • Pigletinapoke October 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    I feel the same about Jackson Pollock and those poor wonky Picasso women. I have just had to accept that they are clever in a way I cannot see. Art is personal anyway – you should feel what you feel when you feel it. Critics are not you. x

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

      I don’t have a problem with Jackson Pollock, often find the really big ones quite mesmerising, and understand Picasso better now I’ve been through a bit like his women, but Rothko? Nothing, not even a flicker. I also don’t like Poussin but don’t tell a soul x

  • Pigletinapoke October 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Oooh but I am excited about the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition coming to the National Gallery and have already bought my ticket. Now THERE was an artist x

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

      Oh you are organised! I’ll have to get going on that …. yes, he was fab. Apparently his individual brush strokes are so tiny it’s really hard to see them even with a microscope. Love that OCD attention to detail … x

  • Kavey October 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    There is a great deal of modern art I don’t get, that doesn’t move me, that doesn’t make me think about anything other than the mundanity of throwing a bunch of crap together and selling it for millions.

    BUT, the canvas above, I do love, I love the colours and textures of it… it feels like autumn simplified.

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

      There you go! Everyone seems to get it except me! And the autumn thing …. I just picked one of his that matched my blog theme. What a philistine!

  • Jo October 13, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Hello. I completely understand what you are saying regarding certain types of art and artists, but for me Rothko gives me warmth. I like his works, Pollock too….for it’s hint of chaotic madness. Strangely though, I do not like Edward Manet’s work. I find him too cold for my liking.
    But that is art for you. We are all different and so our perceptions of a painting will be different. x

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      I’m not mad about Manet either – I always think he’s bit unsuccessful at getting posture right. Not sure if I find him cold, though. I like the bonkersness of Pollock, resonates quite well with the way I sometimes feel! x