Modern art has more depth than meets the eye


Marissa Ho

Senior Merina Spaltro of Allentown practices her technique by working on a sketch at an NAHS watercolor workshop.

Rebecca Heath and Jacynth Apora

“Cold Steam” by Cy Twombly looks like chalk scribbles on a blackboard, no art techniques applied. At its core, society characterizes modern art as experimenting and abandoning tradition. In fact, the contemporary art of today is so wide-ranging and abstract that critics often debate its credibility.

In an experiment, The Daily Mail recorded the amount of time people stopped to look at a piece of modern art in a museum. The average time was five seconds.

Professional artist Amanda Francis said that Damien Hirst’s “Anthraquinone-1 Diazonium Chloride,” which has multi-colored dots in even rows filling the entire canvas, disinterested her.

“It does nothing for me. I sometimes think the key to being a successful artist such as Damien is not to spend five days a week working in a studio but two days working and the remaining time selling your work,” Francis said.

Despite some negative views regarding the movement, artists created some renowned masterpieces, such as “The Starry Night” and “The Scream,” during the modernist period.

Besides these notable works, some questionable contemporary art pieces sell for considerable amounts of money. Justin Gignac’s “The NYC Garbage Cubes,” includes actual pieces of garbage from New York packaged in plastic cubes, and they sold for $50 each. The abstract painting “Onement Vi” by Barnett Newman is a canvas covered in dark blue with a thick white line down the middle, and it sold for $48.3 million.

A prominent difference between past art movements and contemporary art is how artists translate ideas into the physical artwork.

Sophomore Liam Umbs of Monmouth Beach said that no matter what the piece is, the artist’s intent is the most valuable element.

“Modern art has more of the beauty in the ideas rather than the actual piece of art itself,” Umbs said.

Senior Sebrina Gao of Freehold has been drawing seriously since her freshman year of high school. She said that those who view the art give it purpose.

“Since art is so subjective, as long as someone can relate to it in the world, it is valid,” Gao said.

But others argue that modern art takes away the value of pieces made before the movement. Senior William Dean of Middletown said that art should not solely depend on subjectivity.

“It’s just trying to make edgy statements and it doesn’t require skill. We have started to move as a society away from skill towards how something makes you feel. What you think of it isn’t really measurable,” Dean said.

While some object to selling artwork that seems to lack technique or thought, others feel a connection to contemporary pieces. Art remains vulnerable to criticism, but an artist is successful if one person can appreciate their work.