Friday, April 12, 2013


Visiting the Museum of Modern Art (MARGS) in Porto Alegre, I finally understood what modern art is all about. I feel like back in High School where everybody else was laughing and I was still trying to figure out the joke. So here I am, walking around the purple-orange-green painted halls, looking at different paintings, art installations and sculptures. In other words: I am looking at odd shapes, random forms and unusual color combinations. More specific: a bunch of circles, lines, black squares on white canvas.

After half an hour of looking at the paintings I am still clueless as to what they are actually showing. Cubism? Deconstruction? Meta-criticism? I approach the little plaque with the title, hoping to get more information (something along the lines – haha, get the joke?! - of “flowers in a vase”, “house on a cliff” or “black cat”) and here it suddenly strikes me. Modern art is irony. Because after all this guessing and staring, this is what you get: “Geometry on canvas” or “lines and circles” or “art work number 5, or – my favorite - “untitled”. And after so many years of struggling with modern art, it finally occurs to me: This is funny! These useless titles actually make sense. Modern art is all in the title.

Think about it! We all have seen titles that read something like “3 dots”, when what you actually see are 4 lines. Or “untitled” paintings that give you a 4-line-title. It's ironic! It's a FU to society! It's modern art! The artist simply refuses to tell us what it's all about and just says: “Look, I am just drawing some lines here. I can't make sense of society either, so you have a guess at it!” I imagine a modern art video installation showing visitors at a museum looking at the pictures, giving smart comments about them and then hearing the artist's roaring laugh in the background. And they are right! It's hilarious!

I have even caught myself once looking at a fire extinguisher thinking it was part of the exhibition … until I realized that it really WAS a plain and simple fire extinguisher. So suddenly it dawned upon me, modern art is like a David Lynch movie: You can either sit down and discuss what happened for 2 hours or you can have a big laugh at it. Personally, I choose the bright side of modern art!

1 comment:

  1. I don't get modern art either. I live one block from MAC (modern art museum) in Santiago. I've never visited it. Maybe one day, I'll walk down there if I need some exercise.

    Don't tell anyone, but I feel the same way about most poetry.