Thursday, April 14, 2005

On an Editorial About the Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center, a museum for contemporary art, is reopening after about a year of extensive remodeling and expansion. The Minnesota Daily has a positive editorial about it's re-opening, but offers a warning, as well:
But if the center can offer reasonable prices that allow anyone to peruse its revamped galleries and attend performances, it has the potential to become a social center in the Twin Cities. Too often centers of art become elitist institutions because of costs. Sadly, elitism in the field of art is self suffocating. Art centers become intimidating and as unapproachable as the mysterious mansion on the hill and the exchange between the public and the arts institutions becomes stale. Nobody wants an arts center that seems to be dying of gangrene, a lack of new blood.
I think that contemporary art is "self-suffacating," regardless of the costs involved in viewing and/or participating in it. From what I understand, contemporary art seems to be alot about conversations with other artists about very subtle and not too terribly obvious things--sometimes about the producing and production of art.

This is probably no new thing, of course. I'm sure that Matisse was saying lots of things to Monet with his paintings. But, I bet there is a difference between the folks 100 years ago who looked at those paintings and the folks who look at contemporary art. I can't imagine folks in the past looking at lillies or people next to a river remarking: "What the hell is that!?" I'm sure most people said, "Ahh, a picture of lillies or people next to a river."

Today, however, it seems like a pretty commonplace thing for most folks to say, "I don't get it, this is art?" whenever they see contemporary art. And it's not because contemporary art is fundamentally inscrutable, so much as the art requires a lot of prior knowledge and art-literacy to appreciate. Which might be pretty fine, too, I suppose.

I just think it's a little silly to assume that cost is the biggest thing preventing most people from visiting a contemporary art gallery. Even if the museum had free admission, I suspect that most folks wouldn't go, or derive a whole lot of pleasure from it if they did.(Apart from saying, "There! I visited a gallery.") And I should know; I lived right across the street from the center for a year before its remodeling, and I never visited--even on Thursdays when the center had free admission!

Update: Oops! I didn't mean Matisse and Monet, I meant Monet and Manet.


Blogger vvoi said...

by now matisse and monet could very well have conversations :)
and several british museums are free.
so are many many galleries world-wide.
which, you are right, does not make them any more attractive...

4/14/2005 4:43 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

What a converastion that would be! It's like that game where you're asked to name some people you would want to meet in heaven. I don't think I would choose either one of those, however. If I chose an artist to meet in heaven it would be Georges Seurat, but that's only because I think his Sunday on La Grande Jatte is nearly heaven already.

4/14/2005 7:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home