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How to taste and appreciate modern art works

Many people are confused and angry about modern artworks: “Why are there so many unexplained random shapes in modern artworks? Wasn’t it just a random scribble by the artist? What is the artistic value of this? Even a child can draw like this, right? Is it because the artist is famous, and a few strokes of paint is a work of art? What is the technical content of this?”
Obviously, the logic of asking such a question is: I can draw with such two or three strokes, so what is the difference between an artist and an ordinary person?

And the anger is: How can a work that even I can paint be sold at such a high price? But if I were to paint, it is a scrap of paper, this is too unfair! And such a simple picture, those painters can draw many a day, what is the point of it? Is this not a clear money grab? Why let this kind of crap make money! This is a blatant fraud! What’s wrong with this society?
This time, I’m going to answer you in a way that suits your mood.

Since you think that such works can be painted by ordinary people, I suggest you try to see if you can copy an abstract art work in its entirety? Is it possible to copy a work of art in its entirety, without missing a single point? Take for example the following Mondrian work. You know that this painting is worth a lot of money, so you can copy it to prove to yourself that you have the ability to produce something worth a lot of money. You have to use the same tools as Mondrian, that is, just paint, brushes and paper/cloth.


For someone who has no art training, this is obviously very difficult. Even if you are allowed to use a ruler to draw a straight line, you will hesitate because you can’t tell where the line starts, and you will be confused because you can’t control the brush and the color always spreads over the border. What’s even more problematic is that the reds and purples may not be in your paint tube, and you’ll have to figure out how to mix the colors. Then you have to spend a lot of time obsessing about the ratio of water to paint so that the colors don’t look too thin.
You start to see that it’s not as easy as you “thought” it would be to finish a piece.
If the lines aren’t so neat, you’re even more frantic. You get caught up in what you see as the “messy lines” and are at a loss to accurately blend the rich colors. It would probably take you a week to complete the following Kandinsky work and achieve complete consistency.
The good thing is that Mondrian and Kandinsky didn’t do as many paintings in one day as you might think. They probably took about the same amount of time as you, or even longer than you, to complete such a work.


So you said: “Well, these paintings are technically impressive, I admit that painters are better at drawing straight and curved lines than I am. But what’s so special about the composition? It’s just a few lines and colors, it doesn’t look like a pig or a duck, what is this painting even about? If I don’t stick to copying, I can also randomly paint a few strokes, give it an untitled name, hang it on the wall and have an exhibition.”

If you really think that way, then congratulations, you have just started learning how to appreciate art.
Here, I want to emphasize this sentence: when appreciating art, you always need to think about why the artist chose to express themselves in this way.

You have to believe that artists will always be better at drawing than you. Most of the types of drawings you can think of have already been practiced by them.
So you have to think, if these artists can depict the familiar objects such as people, landscapes, and buildings, why don’t they do it that way? Why do they choose to use such an unusual method?
Art is not imitation. This sentence is almost common sense in the art world, but you may not realize it quickly. You like to evaluate artworks according to your own taste and general knowledge. Sometimes you may have a personal sense of aesthetics, for example, you are sensitive to blue, so works that mainly use blue expressions will make you think. So why don’t we broaden this mindset to appreciate more paintings?

Lucio Fontana’s slashed canvas works are popular in the market
At the contemporary art-themed auction in London in February, Lucio Fontana’s market performance was quite good. Two of his works were featured at Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctions, respectively, with “Concetto spaziale, Attesa” selling for £3.96 million (with an estimate of £1.8-2.5 million) at Christie’s, and “Concetto Spaziale, Attese” selling for £1.44 million (with an estimate of £0.8-1 million) at Sotheby’s, both exceeding the highest estimate.



The subtitles of the works are the Italian verbs and nouns “attesa” and “attese,” respectively, meaning “waiting” and “expectation” in Italian. It is said that the meaning is that the viewer initially “expects” to see an ordinary picture, but Fontana destroys this “expectation” with a single cut.

Artist Lucio Fontana’s (1899-1968) most well-known artistic contribution lies in his series of “slashed” canvases, which made him the pioneer of minimalism. In 1949-1950, Fontana began piercing his canvases, saying, “I broke through the space of the canvas, as if to say: from now on, we can do whatever we like.” Fontana also saw it as a way to evoke infinity, claiming, “I created a one-dimension of infinity.”

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