Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Ugly Art"

While enjoying my New York Times and a chai from Mud coffee at Union Square last weekend, I was shocked by a conversation I overheard between a pretentious father and his adorable 3-yr old daughter.

"What's that daddy," the little girl asked as she pointed to the artwork on the southern side of Union Square.

After a short pause, he "enlightened" his daughter, "that's ugly art."

"I don't like ugly art, I like pretty art," she responded to her dad.

As I watched them walk away, I watched the little girl point up to the artwork again and say to her dad, "that's ugly art."

I certainly don't think that the 3-yr old needed to be read the artists' statement as her bedtime story, but as the daughter of an art teacher, I am appalled by the father's comment.

I must admit that I didn't know anything about the artwork until I did a quick Wikipedia search. The installation is called Metronome and was created by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel. Wikipedia says, "The work was commissioned by the Related Companies, developers of One Union Square South, with the participation of the Public Art Fund and the Municipal Art Society. The $4.2 million provided by the developer makes it one of the largest private commissions of public art." According to the artists' statement "Metronome contemplates time: geological, solar, lunar, daily, hourly, and momentarily, revealing the fractions of seconds in the life of a city – and of a human being." That's just a small part of the artists' statement. Check out more of the statement if you're interested.


Blogger Anuradha said...

I am not condoning the father's statements, but just wonder, must art be considered "beautiful" to be appreciated and/or to carry out the artist's intent? I can think of many grotesque paintings that made me stop and think. The one that is popping into my head right now is Picasso's Guernica. That is NOT pretty, but on its trip around the world it made people stop and think about the Spanish Civil War. Again, I think the father should have chosen his words more carefully, but I believe that not all art is created to be considered "beautiful" but in its ugliness still conveys a profound message.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Perhaps the father should have asked the daughter what she thought of the art and engaged her in a dialogue rather than simply "telling" her what to think of the art.


10:41 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Anuradha, I think you are right that art need not be beautiful to be appreciated...I think that was just a 3yr old's understanding of opposites:-)

Hi CJS, glad you think so...your Aunt Martha would be proud;-)

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the father of an 11 year old budding artist, with 11 years of art in the basement, 6 years of positive notes from elementary art teachers, and who has personally toured art exhibits as diverse as the Getty and the Lourve with our daughter, this father you over heard was totally wrong...... That's BUTT UGLY art! (only to be matched by my own famous cow drawings)

3:56 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

"butt ugly art" perhaps but should the father have said that to his daughter?

I know an 11 year old who has been to the Getty and Louve:-)

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay so here it is.. I must respond....
Validation of art depends on what theory of art you use to judge it.
If you believe that art is only "good" if it resembles something, then you subscribe to the Mimemic Theory of Art. If you believe that art is "good" if the artist successfully uses the principles and elements of art then you are judging art using the Formalist Theory of Art. But what about expression? If you believe that expression is most important then you adhere to the Expressive theory of art. There are also people who believe that in order for something to be art it has to have a purpose...serve a greater cause. If you think this way, you definately judge art using the Pragmatic theory of art.
so there you go. How sad that this Dad is visually illiterate.
He must not have taken art in theCouncil Rock school district!!!!
Love Mom oxoxoxox

3:05 PM  

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