Sunday, September 7, 2014

Modern Art (pt. 5)

Many people find a liberating quality to the artwork of Jackson Pollock, as if it lifted away the oppressive boundaries of artistic creation, allowing artists free reign to splash paint onto canvases and do whatever they want.  While there are inherent positive benefits to such an emancipation, a good counter-argument remains that completely unrestricted art forms cease to function as art, both for the public and for the artist; and that therefore, creative expression through art cannot purely exist in such anarchical genres as Abstract Expressionism.  There are still many people who would argue that paintings like this are not art.  And what can we say to that?  For both artist and audience, a work such as this (Pollock's painting, Lucifer) did not apply to the standard criteria for art—in fact, it intentionally deviates from art, in a way, by becoming solely about the individual's act of making something.  Clearly, this is something broader than mere art, something more abstract in conception and execution than "I'm making a painting."  So, what is going on here?  Is this art?  Perhaps more practically: should we interpret this as art?  Abstract Expressionism certainly doesn't want to be tied down to any restrictive framework.  Wouldn't it be an ironic contradiction, then, to take such an abstract entity and label it as one thing or another, an art style or a movement of art history?  Or is art something so vast that it can encompass the abstract without pushing specifics or regulatory standards on its object?  Can art freely cover all areas, abundantly broad in definition even to include the nameless, abstract, incomprehensible works?  It brings us back to the question, what is art?  Perhaps it is an entity as abstract as Pollock's paintings themselves; or perhaps you disagree, which is equally arguable.

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