Saturday, January 28, 2012
This past Friday I went to the Pasadena Museum of California Art's newest exhibit, L. A. Raw. it is evidently part of a wider art scene called PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. Quite a few of the region's art museums are involved since they have a listing and maps of all the museums involved. Several members of my Plein Air group went and well, since many of us are considered "seniors" we found this in many ways the antithesis of art. We paint outdoors on any given Friday trying as best we can to create a world of beauty. Some better than others. (But again I ask, is my art any less valid than another's?) What we saw here was a world of anguish, pain and yes, dare I say it, depravity! Watching a nude, grown adult dip his genitals in a bucket of paint is not art. I found that the more outrageous pieces of art were from artists my own age. Those born from around 1940 to 1950. I remember those years of rebellion, the 60's, so well. Nothing was sacred, and we have not recovered yet. What is art? Seeing these paintings the question rears its ugly head again. Yes we have Velaquez, or Picasso, Daumier and his satires, Goya and his black paintings...artists who portrayed the violence of their times. We would rather remember Monet, Renoir even the troubled Van Gogh whose shimmering canvases showed a world and time far removed from us. Was there violence during the Impressionist era? Of course. But by then daily newspapers informed us of that and we took our solace in art showing life far removed from those events. That the 20th century was violent, there can be no doubt. But you have to question the portrayal of it in art. Were we so helpless the anguish of it scared us in ways never before? Of was it an excuse of the most pampered generation in history to excuse their excesses? Gazing at this exhibit, we asked ourselves, who is this art for? What does it mean? And finally, is it even art?