Why Modern Art "Sucks"

Why Modern Art "Sucks"

Hint: It's not necessarily the art's fault.
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Let’s do a little experiment.

Below this paragraph is a work of modern art. Now, without doing any research and without knowing anything else about the work, do a formal analysis this painting. (For those of you who are in the know, pretend that you don’t know anything about the context of modern art.)

Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting (1951)

There’s not really a whole lot to say, is there? These are, for all intents and purposes, three blank canvases hung on the wall and that seems to be about it.

Now, let’s take a look at some critical commentary on Rauschenberg’s work. According to John Milton Cage Jr., "the work is made up of “hypersensitive screens” which react to environmental changes in the room so as to “lead to the possibility of pure experience." The work is a rejection of substance, instead embracing a quasi-postmodern reflexivity. Or, at least, so the art community claims.

Nope, it still just looks like blank canvas.

We have a problem here or, rather, the art community has a problem. Here’s a work of art which has, when explained, rich meaning, but it makes itself impossible for formalistic analysis. There is, quite literally, nothing here to analyze. You can’t talk about the line-work, coloring, or even about a nonrepresentational reflection of the artist (a la Jackson Pollock). There is simply nothing there.

Barnett Newman’s Onement VI (1953).

Without formalistic analysis, art must be understood via contextual means. In other words, we have to look at art as it falls within the tradition of art as a whole. “How does this work contribute to the progression of art?” Consider Duchamp’s Fountain, created in 1917.

Yes, before you ask, it is just a urinal.

See, Duchamp was clever. At this point in time, art was still seen as something that had to take a great deal of skill and had to be aesthetically pleasing. With this sculpture Duchamp turned the art world on its head and everyone knew about it. That last part is important, because it’s at the heart of what makes contemporary “modern art” so frustrating.

In any other medium, context is not required to analyze and appreciate a work. Rather, context offers the opportunity for deeper and more critical analysis. So why should visual art be treated differently from its other artistic counterparts?

Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991).

My concern isn’t that these works have meaning. In fact, my concern is quite the opposite. My concern is that by pulling on tradition that is outside of public discourse, the modern art community is turning art meaningless. When an intelligent person walks into a museum and says, “I don’t get it,” it represents the failure of discourse between the art community and the outside world.

Visual art is, fundamentally, a communicative medium. Although it is less direct than its literary and cinematic counterparts, visual art retains every bit as much power (and, depending on you ask, quite a bit more) to convey complex emotions, ideas, and concepts. Therefore, when even knowledgeable viewers are unable to find meaning from the content alone or are unable to pull from the incredibly niche knowledge required to appreciate a work, public discourse (and, consequently, modern art) has failed.

Ai Weiwei’s Han Jar Overpainted with Coca-Cola Logo (1995).

Now, that’s not to say that all modern artists are disengaged from public discourse. On a strictly personal level, some of the artists who I find to be the most impressive are wrapped up in public involvement. The Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei is largely reliant upon his mass-media image for his success and, as a result, very little doubt and confusion surrounds his works. Others, like Barbara Krueger, pull less from art culture “in-jokes” and more from popular culture.

But these artists don’t change the overwhelming trend that is members of the art community being out of touch with the rest of the world. The failure of modern art is not one of aesthetic, but of conversation. If people cannot understand art, then the problem is one of engaging the public.

I’m not saying that the art aficionados out there can’t appreciate the occasional urinal or ultra-reflexive blank canvas. I’m just suggesting that perhaps it's time to quit impressing the critics with impressive intertextual allusions and time to start catching the public up on the last century of art and art theory.

Cover Image Credit: Jackson Pollock

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37 Drake Lyrics From 'Scorpion' That Will Make Your Next Instagram Caption Go Double Platinum

Side A makes you want to be single, Side B make you want to be boo'd up.

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We all knew Scorpion was going to be the summer banger we wanted. However, Drake surprised us with two sides of an album and two sides of himself. Mixing rap and R&B; was genius on his part, so why not dedicate 37 of his lyrics to our Instagram captions?

1. "Don't tell me how knew it would be like this all along" — Emotionless

Definitely a "I'm too good" for you vibe.

2. "My mentions are jokes, but they never give me the facts" — Talk Up

This one's for my haters.

3. "I wanna thank God for workin' way harder than Satan" — Elevate

For when you're feeling blessed.

4. "I promise if I'm not dead then I'm dedicated" — March 14

In Drake's story about his son the world knows about now, we get a lyric of true love and dedication

5. "My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions" — Survival

6. "Pinky ring 'til I get a wedding ring" — Nonstop

7. "I gotta breathe in real deep when I catch an attitude" — 8 Out of 10

This first line of the song is about to be spread on the gram like a wildfire

8. "Heard all of the talkin', now it's quiet, now it's shush" — Mob Ties

9. "California girls sweeter than pieces of candy" — Sandra's Rose

This is gonna have every girl who has ever stayed in Cali all hot and heavy, watch it.

10. "I think you're changing your mind, starting to see it in your eyes" — Summer Games

Y'all know how these summer games go

11. "Look the new me is really still the real me" — In My Feelings

When you've got to profess that you've changed 200%

12. "Only beggin' that I do is me beggin' your pardon" — Is There More

13. "Shifted your focus, lens lookin' jaded" — Jaded

14. "Back and forth to Italy, my comment section killin' me" — Can't Take a Joke

Necessary for when you've got people hyping you up already

15. "People are only as tough as they phone allows them to be" — Peak

Y'all can't have this one, I'm stealing it

16. "Work all winter, shine all summer" — That's How You Feel

Put in the work so you can flex on 'em, summer 18

17. "Blue faces, I got blue diamonds, blue tint, yeah" — Blue Tint


18. "I stay busy workin' on me" — Elevate

19. "Ten of us, we movin' as one" — Talk Up

The perfect reason to get the largest group picture you've had on your gram

20. "October baby for irony sake, of course" — March 14

This statistically applies to 1/12 of y'all reading this, so take that as you will (we October babies are the best)

21. "She had an attitude in the summer but now she nice again" — Blue Tint

22. "I know you special girl 'cause I know too many" — In My Feelings


23. "Gotta hit the club like you hit them, hit them, hit them angles" — Nice for What

24. "She said 'Do you love me?' I tell her, 'Only partly,' I only love my ____ and my ____ I'm sorry" — God's Plan

If you haven't used this one yet, get to it

25. "But I'm blessed I just checked, hate me never met me in the flesh" — I'm Upset

26. "It's only good in my city because I said so" — 8 Out of 10

Follow this up with a location and shoutout your hometown

27. "My haters either on they way to work or they arrived" — Can't Take a Joke

28. "I always need a glass of wine by sundown" — Final Fantasy

Has Drake ever been more relatable?

29. "It's your f***in' birthday. Happy birthday" — Ratchet Happy Birthday

Let's go get kicked out of an Applebee's

30. "I move through London with the Eurostep" — Nonstop


31. "I stopped askin' myself and I started feelin' myself" — Survival

Mood all summer 18

32. "They keep tryna' get me for my soul" — I'm Upset

33. "I'm tryna see who's there on the other end of the shade" — Emotionless

34. "Only obligation is to tell it straight" — Elevate

35. "It don't matter to me what you say" — Don't Matter to Me


This line from the King of Pop (MJ) will give you chills. R.I.P.

36. "I'm the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves" — Sandra's Rose

37. "Say you'll never ever leave from beside me" — In My Feelings

Couple goals, amirite?

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11 Things To Never Say To A Retail Worker

Because people actually say these things.

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I've worked in retail for years, and some of the things i've heard are truly ridiculous. While i love helping customers find their perfect item, here are some thing's i've been asked or told by customers that made me want to hide in the break room.

1. "Can you watch my child?"

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Hmm so I can double check if you like but i'm pretty sure when i signed up for this job i didn't sign up to be a babysitter as well. Sorry.

2. "Can you check the back?"

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A solid 99% of the time when someone asks if there is more stock of an item in the back, the employee has already checked the back for that item in the same day. Our job is to help people buy things, and we are typically rewarded for making more sales. So trust us, if we say we're out of an item then we are out of it.

3. "I'm never shopping here again"

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Well it's been a pleasant experience knowing you.

4. "Excuse me, I've been waiting in line for a long time"

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Yes, wow you are correct. In fact, let me just ignore everyone who was here before you and help you first.

5. "The item isn't scanning? It must be free!"

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Fake laughing at customers jokes is a big part of the job, but I've heard this so many times at this point it physically hurts to bring myself to laugh.

6. "May I use this coupon even though it's expired"

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Fun fact, we actually just put those expiration dates for fun. Yeah, no.

7. "Can I use your employee discount"

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Yes, random person I've just met. I will completely risk loosing my job to help you get 20% off your purchase today.

8. "This item was on the clearance rack and I won't pay full price for it"

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I can completely understand that it's frustrating since you thought the item was at a discounted price, but that doesn't mean i can magically change the price for you.

9. "Do you work here"

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No, i just bought the store uniform from a thrift shop and then come to the store to fool people like you.

10. "No, my card is not getting declined. It must be you"

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Well, i've successfully managed to check out 100 other customers today and all of their cards worked fine. So, I'm going to go ahead and say i'm not the problem here.

11. "Why does [insert store product] cost so much?"

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Just a warning, you may need to sit down for this one. Retail workers actually don't control the prices fo store products. Shocking, right?

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scontent-iad3-1.cdninstagram.com

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