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Modern Art’s Attack on Meaning and Beauty

June 14, 2014
Barnett Newman - Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III

Barnett Newman – Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III

Michaelangelo Buonarroti - The Creation of Adam

Michaelangelo Buonarroti – The Creation of Adam

Both of the pieces of art shown above have been honored by professional critics. Both are preserved for viewing and appreciation by the public, (one takes up an enormous wall in an art museum in Holland, the other has recently been cleaned of centuries of candle smoke on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel…)

Our society misplaces artistic appreciation and funding

$146 million of our U.S. tax dollars are used every year to fund art projects across the country. Sadly it is far more common for this funding to go to modern art like the first example shown above (or worse) rather than to any projects most taxpayers would consider real “art”. In fact the endowment has somehow found justifications to fund art projects like these recently:

  • Artists offered funding to create art supportive of President Obama
  • Homoerotic art funded by American taxpayers
  • Anti-American art funded by American taxpayers
  • Art involving human excrement funded by the endowment

The fact that these decisions created controversy means at least there are some people in America still attempting to apply a rational moral standard in considering art. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that the other side of the debate is generally more influential within the art world and its political funding entities.

But the debasement of artistic standards and misplacement of financial support goes much further when we consider individual choices in the marketplace…

Two supernatural book/film series, Twilight (teenage vampires) and Harry Potter (child wizards), have grossed over $30,000,000,000 (30 Billion with a B) in sales. This is a pot of gold that would be sufficient to fund the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts for over two centuries.

What is missing from this funding and attention? – any significant focus on true art that seeks to show meaning with creativity and beauty, whether via painting, sculpture, music, dance or writing.

Modern art’s attack on meaning is no accident

At first glance, modern art often appears thrown together, causing us to wonder whether the artist might have completed it just a few minutes with little attention paid to its detail. The more frequent truth, sadly, is that significant time has been devoted to find the most powerful “emptied” concept they could present, from which literally no inspirations can be drawn. Artists operating with this nihilistic philosophy deeply believe that the truest thing they can show in their art is that there is no meaning in the world.

“Pop art” (e.g. Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup can painting) and “minimalism” (such as the example above) seek not to raise or inspire us up to the level of art, but to degrade art down to the level of the everyday. It is a purposeful effort NOT to create, in order to show the meaninglessness of creativity, and ultimately of life.

Don’t believe modern art’s worldview. Embrace meaning, truth and beauty

It is plain to see that modern art appeals only to those who already share its worldview of meaninglessness. On its own, it is not “converting” anyone to this philosophy, which is something of a proof of its falsehood. On the other hand, real art shows its power through its meaning and beauty in painting, sculpture, music, dance, poetry and writing. It communicates the truth that we have a Creator, and that our world, and each of our lives, do have meaning. Communicating that meaning is the correct primary purpose for art; when the meaning is shown in its full power and truth, and when the communication of it is done well, true art enriches our lives.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8


From → Politics, Worldview

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