Why does this painting belong in a museum? Let's be honest, there is not a lot going on in this painting. It would be easy to look at it and think that the most interesting thing about it is the fact that it was painted sideways - thrilling. But art is about conveying ideas, and this piece has got something to say, at the very least museum curators think so. With that, we need to dive into the conversation that Theo van Doesburg's Counterpoint VIII is taking apart in.
Made in 1924 Germany Counterpoint VIII entered a world in ruins, and in disarray following the First World War. With this feeling of disarray, a new movement of art sprung up called Neoplasticismdisarray. Hoping to comfort the world and light the way to harmony with controlled, harmonious straight lines and simple shapes. The whole movement was to be the most simplified art could possibly be.
Looking at the painting; I think it's very clear to see. The canvas itself is a square, there are three colors, and really only two lines. If I were to give a single word to the feeling this piece instills in me, that word would be "structure". And after WWI who could blame someone for wanting a little structure. And this is what makes this painting worthy of being in a museum. It is not just what is on the canvas, it's what the piece of art is saying. Counterpoint VIII came out at a certain time in history as a certain style was going on. This historical significance is important, and is what elevates this from paint on canvas, to art.
But there is a problem for me here. I don't know anyone who knows what "neoplasticism" is - I didn't even know what it was till I began writing this article. If art is a way to convey ideas, I am not sure how about needing to scour google just to join the conversation. There is a lack of access when you need to know about the historical significance, the painter's history, the relevant art periods. It can make looking at art as confusing as jumping into the middle of a book.
Now some people might respond by asking, well what's wrong with needing to look into the background a bit. And I think the problem lies in over-abstracting art until the feelings get lost. If a layperson can't get the feeling a piece of art is trying to portray, can it be called art?
Modern art seems to garner this kind of reputation. Unless you are someone who already knew what "neoplasticism" was, then I am going to go out on a limb and guess that modern art isn't your favorite topic in the whole world. And that would prove my point more than anything. The idea that a whole era of art became so abstract that a whole group of people were unable to join the conversation about it. But by creating a group of people who can bond and share and discuss their confusion of modern art, these very pieces are serving their purpose.
At the end of the day, art is about communicating ideas, the intent of the creator is important, but most important are the ideas the consumer has about a piece of art. Confusion is an idea, and so these pieces, such as Counterpoint VIII belong in museums, for creating a discussion about what art is, and should be, the very discussion we all enter into when we ask "why does this belong in a museum?"