06 January 2006

Art in my Neighborhood

Knowing about art and not much else really makes the world look like a different place. Take this picture as an example. It's what I see outside my living room windows.

For those of you with nice views of greenery, seaside, forest, mountainous landscape, or other beauteous vistas, you'll probably think this is downright ugly, cityish, crowded, etc. Maybe some of you will think, "Wow. Satellite TV in Beirut". Others of you will wonder if I live in a dangerous part of town what with all the bars on the windows. Still others might be interested in the apparent bullet holes in the building on the left, or the general boringness of the very rectilinear architecture.

Want to know what I see when I look out the window?

I see modern sculpture.

Maybe if an architect or someone with greater understanding of construction technology looked at this they would know what it was for. I, without that specialization, look at it and am pretty sure it is 'useless'. Decorative. Embellishment. Art.

It actually reminds me of this, a sculpture from the mid-1960s by Donald Judd. He did loads of these in lots of different sizes and colors. I like the repetition of them, the uniformity of the pieces. That a unified whole is made of very separable parts.

Much as I like Judd's sculptures, I find his art theory stifling and aggravating. He was one of those Modern purists, all about forms becoming increasingly streamlined as though that was the true, eternal, uncompromisable destiny of art.

So, although I disagree with why Judd made sculptures like this one, I never the less like the outcome. I like it the way I like certain clothes or junk TV. It looks nice. It looks right. I rather like seeing a "homage to Donald Judd" right outside my window. There are lots of other artists who made art to represent the way they thought art should be made, and sometimes I like their art too. But usually, I don't like their art theory.

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