Here are some paintings we saw (some years ago, but I've just now dug up the photos) of paintings hanging in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Okay, so I'm a philistine. I have no culture. I just don't get it. Do you? If so,will you please educate me? What makes any of these as art, or qualifies it to hang in the National Gallery? Am I wrong to think these so-called artists are bamboozling the public, that this emperor has no clothes?
Untitled (I should think so!) by Mark Rothko. If I painted something very like this, would it be hung in any art gallery of note? Why or why not?
Lavender Mist by Jackson Pollock
Reconciliation Elegy by Robert Motherwell
First Station from The Stations of the Cross, by Barnett Newman
The only one of these I can remotely think of as art is the Pollock. Our tour guide explained to us how it was made. First, the "artist" laid the canvas on the floor, stood up on a ladder, and splattered paint randomly on the canvas. Then, he hung the canvas on the wall to be contemplated for a few days. Finally, he trimmed it in the way he felt was most artistic, only using a portion of the original work. So, although the result is rather pleasing to my eye, I don't see it as art, but more as craft.
I have a feeling that if mankind should survive that long, people 500 years from now will look back at the Twentieth Century, at our paintings, sculpture, poetry, novels, plays, and the cacophony that passes for music, and wonder what horrible thing ailed people back then.
P.S.) Staring at the enlargement (click to see it) of Newman's First Station, I have to admit to seeing a lot more in it than I first did. Maybe it's even theologically profound. MAYBE.