Watch: "Why is Modern Art so Bad?"

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I used to like Pollock as well. Until one day I went into MOMA and saw a workman on a ladder changing one of the ceiling lightbulbs in front of a very large Pollock. The painting instantly became just a background for the figure on the ladder.


Ugh. I don’t even know where to begin other than to point out that he’s just regurgitating standard conservative refutations of “modern” art. I think it’s funny that he advocates that artists get back to creating work depicting more dignified subjects, just they used to do back in the day. Like this painting by Courbet from the 1860s:’Origine_du_monde


Agreed. His argument boils down to “you call that art? My four-year-old could do that!” As if nobody has ever said that before since the turn of the twentieth century.

Perhaps, Mr. Florczak, if you do not understand “modern” art, the flaw is not in the art itself. Perhaps the thousands of celebrated artists and academics who think it’s the bee’s knees actually know something you don’t. Or perhaps they should get off your lawn.


The fact that we are talking about it means that modern art has succeeded. On top of that some think it’s nice enough to hang on walls. So how can it really be bad?


Good. I can’t wait to get the Objectivity Guidelines for Art. I’m getting tired of not knowing whether or not I have bad taste. I want to get down to the business of beating myself for not liking the right things.


It’s amazing how closely this guy’s fundamentalist artistic conservatism hews rhetorically to the ‘arguments’ levied by other varieties of fundamentalist conservatives. He drums up the bugbear of ‘relativism,’ mistakes his subjective moral sentiments for objective arguments, and appears to have never encountered a worldview outside of a very narrow sliver of the Western (art) history of the world.

Also, it adds extra credence to his argument that he apparently doesn’t even know what the term “Modern Art” means, and he can’t pronounce “Beaux Arts” correctly.


Excuse me, but I—and I suspect some others—would very much appreciate if you could tell us why the arguments are so stupid and why modern art matters. I have heard arguments to the contrary mocked, I have heard them harrumphed, certainly, but I’ve never heard anything in favor of modern art that wasn’t reducible to “Well if you were a person of discernment you would get it you pleb.”

I am not old. I am not conservative in the slightest, and I have given my level best to enjoy modern art, but I was unable to do so. Classical art I find exceptionally enjoyable, stunning even. But nearly everything that’s described in rapturous terms by the museum catalog looks to me as just… rubbish. Randomness. Pointlessness. A great quantity of material wasted to convey a trite sentiment or a sophomoric political message. And I’m not alone, either. I don’t know anyone who finds this art even slightly enjoyable, and I would dearly like to hear the honest opinion of someone who does. Everything I’ve heard so far has been either impenetrable pretense or people saying that they’ve went and stared at it until they liked it. Considering that professing to like has a non insignificant social value, I can’t help but worry about motivated reasoning.

Please, understand, I do not say this to provoke a fight. I’ve simply never heard an argument in favor of modern art, especially of the incomprehensible variety that makes non-artists suspect they could have done much the same in fifteen minutes. Merely the assertion that people who do not get it are in some way deficient.


Hey, if you want to see more educational, objective analyses, just have a look at all the other Prager ‘University’ videos.


There’s not going to be one simple answer, as there are as many kinds of Modern and Contemporary art as there are stars in the sky, and just as many ways that art can be effective.

You yourself ask for people to clarify their justification for ‘Modern’ art, but give little to endorse Classical art beyond the fact that you find it ‘enjoyable’ and ‘stunning,’ and give little to dismiss Modern (and Contemporary, I’m guessing) art, aside from the fact that it’s ‘[r]andom…[p]ointless…trite…[and] sophomoric,’ (as if that doesn’t describe the vast majority of figurative and Classical art as well!).


if you’re genuinely interested in understanding modern art, i’d suggest finding a good comprehensive art history book on the subject. you still might not enjoy it, but understanding the history and context of the art should at least explain what its all about and why people value it.


(points finger toward air with importance) . . . (shrugs) . . . “Oh, never mind.”


Robert Hughes’ “The Shock of the New” is available on YouTube in its entirety (eight one-hour episodes). It’s the best argument I know for twentieth-century art.


Okay, how about this; your liver functions just fine without you understanding how or why. It’s the same damn thing.


According to Wikipedia’s page on archconservative Dennis Prager:

Prager also started a website called “Prager University” that offers five-minute videos on various subjects such as the Ten Commandments, minimum wage, the Middle East Crisis, and happiness. Video contributors are varied and include columnists George Will and Bret Stephens, British historians Paul Johnson and Andrew Roberts, American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar, several university professors, and Prager himself. According to Prager, he created the site to challenge the “unhealthy effect intellectually and morally” of the American higher education system.[9] New videos are added to the website about once a week.[10]


Classical art I find exceptionally enjoyable, stunning even. But nearly everything that’s described in rapturous terms by the museum catalog looks to me as just… rubbish. Randomness. Pointlessness.

Flip the tables and you’ll witness one of the arguments in favor of accepting modern art: the experience of art is relative. Arguments to the contrary usually conflate personal taste with an objective theory of beauty. Criticism like that in the video sounds to me like a rant against people who complain about headaches when obviously the critic’s own headaches are by far worst in human history and why can’t everyone accept that.


Yes. It’s an expression of a deeply conservative agenda disguised as deep critique.

“Universal standards.” Ugh. “Universal” is just a white man’s way of saying “white male.”


capital M "Modernism in the highest sense is stripping away all of the ornament of the previous generations art and making a more pure art out of line , composition and color. you look at a Miro or a fauvist painting and you see the movement farther from the literal image. Photography has taken the place painting had in the previous centuries of documenting .
the idea that there are objective standards in art is laughable. so which is better a Gothic cathedral or a Romanesque cathedral. no way to answer that question. but which is the best Gothic cathedral is something that you can answer. Not with precision but with more common terms.
then there is the social comment. ever sense the kings and queens of the world sent a generation to die in the trenches of France there has been a very strong “fuck those guys” in art. Perhaps there always was who knows. with more of the regular people having wealth and being able to support painters you don’t get so many government apologists in art. there used to be riots at the dadist shows when they insulted the king. then that was shocking. now the police are pissing on us and someone has made art about it . im sure it shocks someone one but not me.
so basically fuck that guy. if i don’t want to waste my life grinding gemstones for blue and painting in egg tempura that does not mean my art is any lesser. I will agree though that an artist starts with learning how to draw. Cristo the guy who wraps things for a living. he is quite the draftsman.


Wow, I was going to say something elitist about Prager University. I didn’t realize it was actually a fiction. It was my good fortune to take art history with Dore Ashton, back in the late Cenozoic. I would really really enjoy seeing her debate this fellow.


He even appeals to the Free Market at the end! It’s so pitch-perfect. And no wonder he shills for Art Renewal at the end. Lord Almighty.