As a faithful reader of your fine journal, I would like to thank Miss Fitzpatrick for her brave and timely article on this ‘modern art’ epidemic. Lately it seems no matter where I walk on campus I happen upon an animated discussion concerning Mondrian’s progression toward minimalism and abstraction, Rauschenberg’s innovative combines, or the influence of graffiti in the works of Jean-Michel Basquit. Sometimes it just feels inescapable. And it’s no better in the dining hall or library, where I’m often bombarded by our fellow students’ questions. Please, I don’t know why Jackson Pollack rejected representation. Can’t you see I’m trying to eat, or watch this Youtube video, or more often, both?
For far too long talentless scribblers and parasites have passed off their childish, thoughtless creations as meaningful contributions to society and culture. I congratulate Miss Fitzpatrick for having the courage to finally take these charlatans to task: What gives them the right to share their experiments with method, content, and form? How dare they innovate and craft new objects that I can’t begin to appreciate? Have they no decency? Don’t they know how undereducated I am?
Avant-garde? More like avant-garbage. I wonder if these modern art fanatics even know just how ‘modern’ this stuff really is: Were you aware that some of it is, in fact, more than a hundred years old? That’s almost as old as my grandmother, a woman who can’t even use a microwave. Hardly what I would call ‘modern.’ Just look at a so-called ‘masterpiece’ like Picasso’s Guernica. Of what use could this black and white barnyard scene be to me? And why so big?
It all seems so impractical.
I recall a piece I once saw at the MOMA while on a date with an attractive female friend: After wandering through quiet white halls of nonsense, I found on display an old fashioned clothes iron. It was an average size, rather nondescript. Finally, I thought, here is something useful. But to my surprise, as I walked around its podium, I found that nails were pointing out of the iron’s broadside! You can imagine my shock. Looking down at the title card I saw that the artist, a yahoo by the name of Man Ray, had called his ‘sculpture’ The Gift. “Well,” I said to my companion, “that is certainly no gift I should like to receive.”
No, whether it is Joseph Alber’s experiments with simultaneous contrast or Duchamp’s obscene Nude Descending a Staircase, I stand with Miss Fitzpatrick in rejecting this modern art craze. I would urge her to reconsider hurling herself atop the sharp end of Brancusi’s Bird in Space and look forward to the day when people appreciate fine art as they once did: Rockwell-esque still lifes of fruit in bowls or Hudson River Valley landscapes hanging on dusty drawing room walls. Let us fill our museums with plundered treasures from ancient cities and put these ‘modern artists’ to some useful work. Perhaps it’s not too late for some of them to change their majors to business and pursue a rewarding job in marketing.
Michael W. Knapp