Modern Art
Modern Art Anatoli Gostev

What is Modern Art?


It all began in the late 19th century. The public finally recognized the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. During that not-so-distant time, the art market quieted down; the best pieces scattered across museums and private collections as the 20th century dawned. Van Gogh had time to shoot himself, and Cézanne and Gauguin were almost sold out.

Groups of offended and hungry artists emerged, striving for the summits and the sweet pie of fame. The slogan – "ART SHOULD NOT BE CREATED, BUT INVENTED" – entered life and became a symbol of the new painting.

Thus, "modern" painting emerged, with new directions and movements. Demand began to grow, and everyone rushed to the feeding trough. Dealers picked up the idea from sales and artificial PR emerged.

Many argue – I can also make such a smear, even better. But it's not the paintings that make the artist; it's the publicity. PR agencies and galleries decide in the art market, saying, "Let's select an artist and turn them into a genius." This one, precise, knowing the history of art, having some thoughts, uncontrollable, may even tell us off – is unsuitable. But this one – drunk, leading a disorderly life, in need of money and recognition – fits. Or this one – doing what no one did before... THAT ALSO FITS. And the new genius begins to yield dividends.

You might say, talent has dried up? You might say, the search in painting has ended?
Of course not, they were, are, and will be, of one caliber or another, but they exist... Only the profession, the love for work, that love for art capable of sacrifices, is lost... New and new participants join the global marathon towards the feeding trough. An artist says: "There's an exhibition soon, I want to paint three paintings for it..." Is a painting trousers?! Trousers can be sewn by the deadline... but that's just trousers.

Alfons Alle. The Head of the Smoke-in-the-Eyes Society

Alfons Alle lived in France at the end of the 19th century and besides literary pursuits, he had many other responsibilities in his life. In particular, since 1878, Alfons Alle held the position of the head of the Smoke-in-the-Eyes Society (French - fumisme).

In 1882, at the Vivien gallery, at the exhibition "Unrestrained Art," he first showed his famous painting - a completely black and almost square canvas "Battle of Negroes in a Cave at Night," exhibited in a gilded frame by his drinking buddy and colleague, the humorous writer Paul Bie. A year later (at the second "Unrestrained Art" exhibition), Alle exhibited a white sheet of Bristol paper entitled "Anaemic Maidens Proceeding to the First Communion in the Snowy Season." Another year later, Alle's next painting was perceived as a coloristic explosion. The rectangular landscape "Harvesting Tomatoes on the Red Sea Shore by Cardinals" was a brightly red monochromatic painting without the slightest signs of imagery. "A hungry belly has no ears, but it has a wonderful sense of smell," said Alfons Alle.

Thus, thirty years before Kazimir Malevich's suprematist revelations, the artist Alfons Alle became the author of the first abstract paintings. The white rectangle on a white background and the black square on a black background can also be considered as an exact anticipation of constructivism and conceptualism. The only difference between Alle and his followers was that he exhibited his works as a joke and did not try to look like a profound philosopher or a serious discoverer. It was precisely this that led to the lack of recognition of his contribution to the history of art.

Malevich's Black Square is a vulgar plagiarism from Alfons Alle, presented and promoted as a great work.

Lyrical Digression

At the exhibition dedicated to the 123rd anniversary of Malevich, in a prestigious Moscow gallery, Dr. Saveliev, a professor of biological sciences (a photographer, member of the Russian Artists' Union), hung four abstract photos. The press wrote that his suprematist compositions with incredible color spots are relevant and continue the line of art of the 21st century. It turned out that the professor, mocking the public, exhibited, in his words, "photographs of histological sections of the rectum of a deceased abstractionist, richer than all his lifetime work."

Exercises Around Emptiness

In the first decades of the 20th century, a huge historical period in art ended. We witnessed a crisis of the artistic system, and this crisis may last for a long time. Having captured almost the entire twentieth century, this crisis is likely to continue into the entire 21st century. But it's difficult to accept. So it began: Dadaism, Surrealism, "let's collide things of the world in absurd combinations" – and something started hopping on grasshopper legs. And further, and further... now it's conceptualism, and a shark in formaldehyde has floated by. But this is all not it, these are exercises around emptiness: what can be done to amaze.

Nowadays, any fool can bring anything he wants to an exhibition, even a pile of crap, and place it next to a painting by a great master – here, see how brave I am. But this is not modern art. You can take a bunch of tubes, squeeze out all the paint onto a canvas, and say that it's a genius work titled "Ohne Titel nr.16," but the point is that the material should carry some form in art, not become the "art" itself. Every time I clean my big palette table, I'm wiping away my next "genius work."

The creation of beauty has ended – isn't that noticeable? Anti-art has emerged. Art has transformed into something else. And soon this product will be given a name.

Spirit Destruction

We see how the principle of aesthetics, spirit, and the principle of the ideal, that is, art as a high example to strive for, is being destroyed. But in the new art, Spirit becomes unnecessary. Because art is always a dialogue with the world.

And in the world now, and in the foreseeable future, there is only reality left as a wall, as a pile of bricks, which they show us, saying: this is art. Or they show a shark preserved in alcohol, but it only evokes disgust, it cannot evoke any other feeling, it does not convey anything sublime, that is, ideal. What is shown in exhibitions and galleries now will pass. Because preserved sharks, sheep, heaps of garbage, and spilled paint – these are not artistic forms. It's a gesture, an expression, but not art.

Impression of Plots - the Age of Reproductions

The age of reproductions has begun – and will last for a long time – the age of indirect contact with a work of art. We even listen to music through headphones, and this is not the same as hearing it live. But reproduction is damaging, it doesn't even reproduce the size, let alone much else. People, after watching a television program about an exhibition, say: "Why should we go there, we've seen everything." This is sad because any transmission through the media absolutely does not teach how to see. At best, it allows you to capture the plot and theme.

Gradually, people will get used to the lack of direct communication with paintings. New generations will increasingly rely only on copies, not understanding that there is a huge difference between a copy and an authentic work. It depends on everything: size, material, painting style, color, which is not adequately conveyed. Stroke, glazing, even darkening, which over time becomes part of the image, and so on – these sensations are completely lost in the age of reproductions.

The Power Radiated by the Artist

It is known that there is a certain radiation of the power radiated by the artist, working on a painting sometimes for many years. This saturation is transmitted only through direct contact. The same goes for music. Listening to music in concert halls and its reproduction even on the newest carrier is incomparable in impact.

In order for the content of art to be accessible to people, one must look at great paintings - they are bottomless. The painting reveals its new sides to you at every new stage of life.

Circle, Sticks, Mom, and Little House

I cannot foresee changes, just as I could not foresee the internet. But I know that the necessity of art will gain strength again — we do not yet know in what form. Why do I hope for this? Because people — you, me, many others — continue to draw landscapes, write poems, albeit clumsy ones, but this need exists. A little child always starts drawing mom — first a circle and sticks, then, "mom", then draws a little house, because he lives in it. And as long as we have two hands, two legs, and thoughts in our heads, the need for art will not disappear. It comes from human nature from cave times and will always be so, unless we are completely distorted.
It has already happened when everything seemed to be coming to a final point, but then suddenly new people appeared and something happened.

And until we see new Leonardos, Manets, Hogans, Picassos, Chagalls, Matisses, Miros, and Rauschenbergs roaming around Paris, we don't need to be upset. Humanity has created so much greatness that we and you have enough, adding great names from museums and galleries to our brains.
This is what we should hope for.

Imago Mundi MMXXII

Imago Mundi MMXXII

(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
Gostevs Fine Art
Franze Liszta 23PlzeňCzech Republic32300
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