“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.


J Crew said...

I don't get modern art either. Don't you love the giant hand that is in front of the Plaza though?

Ando said...

At least that looks like something.

I don't pretend to understand art, especially modern, but there has been occasions when I've seen a "sculpture" and it appealed to me on some level. I don't know which level that is, but I think it's somewhere near the basement.

kludge said...

J Crew - I heard tell that the marble for that hand was cut from the same query where the marble for David came from.

I was like..."it's still weird to me."

kludge said...


There's a piece at Sonoma State University called "Bacon and Eggs" It totally speaks to me...

Ando said...

I've seen that one. It speaks to me insides...mostly the G.I. tract.

Aunt Missy said...

I have always had difficulty appreciating art in general. There are things that I love, like there is a painting in the Phoenix Art Museum that was the inspiration for the movie Gladiator. It is a spectacularly large painting and you just want to touch it because the sun rays look SO real. But for the most part it's kind of like, "Yeah that's nice"

I have always thought that I was just a bit too simple to really appreciate and understand it, too old school, but oh well.

kludge said...


Pollice Verso or Thumbs Down. A very cool painting. I didn't know that inspired Gladiator. very cool.

This I too can appreciate. It makes sense to me. I see people and objects I recognize. I would have trouble not 'getting this' It's the whole yellow blob paintings that mystify me.

Aunt Missy said...

I guess that is it, abstract never speaks to me. Give me a landscape or portrait any day.

Very cool you knew the name of the painting, it is my favorite piece in the museum. The screenwriter visited and was so inspired he wrote the story around the painting. I can sit and stare at it for long periods of time.

Jason said...

I wonder why they call it abstract art? Because when you say 'abstract' --that kind of implies that it makes a picture in your mind. So, what this tells me is that most modern artists have a fragmented mind.

kludge said...


I think I can accept that as an axiom.

Brendan said...

One night, a couple years ago, I was driving past the plaza when I noticed the giant hand... --CENSORED--

Well, at least we all know what *that* artist was trying to say...

kludge said...

Brendan -

This was censored by the management due to the fact that it offends my delicate sensibilities...

I understand EXACTLY what the artist was trying to say. Thanks for sharing Mr. potty brain. :)

...please don't let this discourage further comments.

Lead Prude