To be able to think freely and interpret the reality we live in is an experience only shared by humans – it’s what makes us unique. The ways in which we express ourselves are infinite. We can choose to partake in painting, poetry, writing, music, fashion – the list goes on. What is interesting, however, are the standards that we as a culture have established for what is ‘good’ art, and what isn’t.
I ask you, what makes a piece of art, good? Is it the statement that is being sent? Is it the technical application? Or is it the raw emotion that can be portrayed from paintbrush to canvas? What makes you look at a canvas and determine whether it is worth $50 million, or $5 dollars? In this article, I am going to try and find out where this distinction between good art and bad art lies, I think this will be interesting.
Examining Exceptional Pieces Of Art
An auction at Sotheby’s New York totalled $294.9 million at its May 2015 sale of postwar and contemporary art. It is one of the largest art auctions in recent history and features some of the most exceptional works of art we have ever seen.
One of the many paintings sold at this auction can be pictured above. It was created by Randall Cunningham, a Spanish free-thinker who has managed to revolutionize modern art through exceptional pieces like this one. This piece, titled, “Immaculate Energy” sold for $70 million back in June at a Spanish art auction. Fans of this work explain how, “it captures the rawest form of the human experience” and “the story this piece tells is simply astonishing – it has really made me rethink my life.”
Yeah, I just made all that up. Randall Cunningham is actually a former New York Jets Quarterback, not an artist. I apologize in if any of you actually thought that piece was worth anything. The work is actually from an interior design website, where house decorators scribble on a chalkboard and put it up in their kitchen.
The painting you see above, titled, Untitled, sold for $70,530,000 in 2015 to an unknown buyer.
Now I challenge you, determine what makes this piece better than the first. Is it because there are more scribbles? Are there more layers that convey a certain message?
Edwin Parker “Cy” Twombly, Jr. created this work, and it is being held as one of the most immaculate pieces of art in modern history. It sold for $70,530,000 at the Sotheby’s art auction in May 2015 and topped every other piece sold during that auction – even works by Pablo Picasso.
My point is; our standards for exceptional art have fallen drastically, and people are paying absurd amounts of money for works that show no true technical skill.
Art is indeed a free form of self-expression, and just like any other human activity, we have standards set and rules to follow in order for you to progress in that area, and become better at what you do. These standards are set for just about anything we do in life. You don’t purchase music if the melody is off-key because it sounds terrible. Just like you (assuming you are a reasonable person who is just as broke as I am) would not pay $70 million for a bunch of scribbles on a chalkboard.
For anyone who enjoys Cy Twombly’s work, if you are reading this, and you argue that the price for his “untitled” piece is justified, I urge you to try and change my perspective on this work – and for that matter, all postmodernism art – because I just can’t seem to understand what the appeal is.
The graphic pictured above is titled “Untitled” again, showing humans creativity when titling their artworks. The ‘untitled’ work is worth an estimated $14-18 million US dollars. Christopher Wool created this masterpiece back in 1990, and I would usually add a description to the work, but I can’t seem to find anything reasonable on the internet, so I’ll just leave this open to, interpretation…
Okay, I’m sorry, I’ll stop tricking you. The actual ‘untitled’ by Christopher Wool is pictured above. The one you saw before was made by yours truly on a Mac paint app, what’s that? Do you want to buy it? Yeah, it’ll cost you $10 million.
Now don’t get me wrong, not every piece of modern art is bad, but personally, I see these works as mere house decorators, rather than exquisite works of art – and to be frankly honest, I wouldn’t put either of these works in my house, regardless of who created them or the price tag.
Great art is still being made, but it just isn’t being considered as ‘the world’s greatest pieces’ because there isn’t a name behind the painting. Anyone can go to school and learn the fundamentals of art, create great works, and not be able to sell their pieces because they aren’t an established artist. The more I look at these famous pieces, the more I realize that your name matters more than your art – people don’t purchase a painting for $70 million because it is a great piece of art, they buy it because they want bragging rights – but you knew that already.
The fact that people are spending absurd amounts of money on these paintings doesn’t bother me; what bothers me is that as they continue to idolize these paintings as the best humanity has the offer, the more our standards as a collective society, fall.
David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
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