I planned on giving you a tour of the museums we visited while in New York, but then I got distracted by this news story in the Daily Mail:
“A student who left a pineapple in the middle of an art exhibition as a prank was left shocked after curators put the fruit inside a glass case.”
About a year ago, Twitter lit up with an account of a teenage boy who left his dirty sneakers in an art museum and watched as patrons took pictures of them.
That was funny too.
But there are a few things I want to point out:
- The young man set the pineapple in an exhibit called Look Again, which asked visitors to “look at the places and spaces around us through fresh eyes”.
- If you set anything in an art museum, people will gather around it because, Hello? It’s an art museum. You expect to see art.
- Just because people were taking pictures of dirty sneakers and pineapples doesn’t mean they were impressed with dirty sneakers and pineapples. More likely they were tweeting it with the caption, “They call that Art?!”
Go into any art museum, especially in their Modern collection, and I guarantee you will hear some variation of, “That’s Art?!”
Perhaps you’ve said it yourself?
No offense, but it’s a stupid thing to say.
Here’s why: I think it’s safe to say most people have no trouble appreciating the art of Monet, van Gogh, and Seurat.
Yet back in the day, those three artists had one helluva time getting their work exhibited. What we accept as beautiful masterpieces was once ridiculed and rejected.
In other words, the Art we criticize today may one day be as revered as a Monet, van Gogh, or Seurat.
So the next time you see a piece of modern art, the moment words of derision threaten to pass your lips, please – and I intend this most kindly – please shut up.
The point of Art is not whether you like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s pretty or if you’d hang it over your sofa.
No one cares if you “get it”, and why are you so concerned whether or not you “get it”?
The point of Art is that someone had a burning desire to create something, and they did.
There’s a t-shirt in the gift shop at the Phoenix Art Museum that reads:
Modern Art + I Could Do That = Yeah, But You Didn’t
Remember that the next time you see a Jackson Pollock.
Which leaves us with the burning question: Can a pineapple be Art?
Absolutely! Especially if it’s at an exhibit asking you to look at something with “fresh eyes”.
But then, maybe it’s Art in and of itself, sitting on your kitchen counter. It’s all in how you look at it.
There’s an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I can’t get out of my head, called Sarah Berman’s closet:
It’s a lovely closet, don’t you think? So simple, precise, clean and useful. You can read more about it here.
Before we jump to thoughts on our own messy closets, or how you couldn’t possibly live with so few items, consider how neatly those three watches are laid out. Look at the row of shoes, nearly identical in hue, but not quite. Notice the cigar box set just so, the red pull switch for the light.
Think about how each item was selected and tended to with extreme care. (I can almost see her ironing, can’t you?)
Is Sarah Berman’s closet Art? You bet your sweet keister it is.
Which brings me to my next point: Art can be a choice. You can choose to live with it, or you can choose to live without it (though I doubt it’d be much of a life).
You can take simple items, a stack of carefully folded shirts or a set of identical watches, and lay them just so.
You can put a pineapple on your table, next to a bowl of fruit, and post a picture on Instagram.
You are the curator of your life.
You call that art?
I sure do.
Note: The paintings above are from the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I highly recommend you visit both. 🙂