“So you see how the larger mass represents love and see that smaller bit..”
“The rusted wheelbarrow that’s been welded on?”
“Yes, that represents our journey though life...”
Well it’s official. I’m a lumbering Neanderthal when it comes to my eye for modern sculpture. I wouldn’t be able to decipher the meaning in a bronze crumpled paper cup, or the hulking rusted edifice that stands like a beacon of knowledge at our local junior college. I just don’t understand.
Art used to be a representation of life. When “David” was chiseled out of marble, Michelangelo wanted to represent a man. He went through the painstaking process of making stone look just like a human. When I look at a picture of it, I’m blown away. I can’t even imagine taking chisel to marble and getting anything that looked like a stick figure, let alone a human that you almost expect to take a breath, and shake off all that gray paint.
Modern sculptors don’t need to represent life, that what pictures are for. But that doesn’t stop our fellows. They yearn to make you wonder. They want to make you understand what their soul is saying. All I see is what looks like the wreckage from some huge construction accident.
Believe me it’s not that I don’t want to understand. I do. I yearn for the knowledge of what this person was trying to say. I appreciate their toil. I mean I understand that it isn’t easy work welding several dozen pieces of farming equipment together and placing it on a concrete base. That takes time, dedication and a certain eccentric vision. In the end you want that vision to speak for you. Tell the world what you are, and how you think. To me all it says is, “Tornado?” Besides a tornado I can’t imagine ever seeing a scythe handle and tractor headlight looking like that. It almost hurts my head to think that someone made such a mess. If I were a farmer I might start weeping.
Sometimes it’s not so much that it is speaking to me, but that I look at the sculpture and think, “I could do that. I wonder how much that cost?” There is large rendering of a concrete wall on the grass near my local mall. It has a rugged rough look to it. There is a six inch wide vertical cut in it. They call it art.
All it says to me is, “I’m a large concrete wall with a cut in me, call a repair man!” As I was walking up to it I almost expect the title to read “Break In The Wall” maybe I can make that mean something. The trouble is when I get up close it says, “Tom’s Path To Valor”, or “Midnight Sailing.” Neither of which say, “Concrete Wall” to me.
I suppose it all comes down to taste. If your particular bent is for the modern look, than you're in luck. There seems to be more of it popping up all the time. If however you're like me, an artistic Neanderthal, then you might want to grab your leopard skin and club and travel back to Florence, Italy. It seems there is little place for us left in this world of modern thinking.