Art Without a Human Context

Not a Fan of Non-Representational Art

I’m Not a Fan of Non-Representational Art

There are people who like abstract art, and then there are people like me. I could go through a large museum of modern art in a quarter of an hour or less, stopping only for a handful of paintings that catch my eye. Admittedly, one finds masses of brilliant colors, bold designs, but nothing that relates to human experience. I have always been amazed that so many works of abstract art are so large, involving so many square feet of canvas and paint, yet  elicit so little response from me. How often does one find works of non-representational art that are small? Their very hugeness is part of their impact. I could spend half an hour looking at a small Renoir or Cézanne, yet pass by a room full of gigantic daubs with barely a shrug.

Some of my friends think there is something wrong with my taste in art. They urge me to visit Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), but I hesitate to devote my time and money to something that does not engage my intellect.

I have looked through some of my earlier posts about art, particularly those relating to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. One is about Vermeer’s “A View of Delft”; another takes as its subject Pieter de Hooch’s “The Mother”; and yet another, Sandro Botticelli’s “The Trials of Moses.” Marcel Proust and I have this in common: paintings that send one on a tangent are infinitely preferred to those which only inspire a grunt accompanied by the exclamation “Meh!”

It is no surprise that banks and corporate headquarters tend to like large works of abstract art. They want people to think they are forward looking, at the leading edge. One looks at them as adjuncts of power rather than as works that can inspire even a modicum of thought. But, perhaps, power without thoughtfulness is what they are aiming at.