Friday, May 22, 2009

Contemporary Art: "I Don't Get It"

Michael Winters:
"I just don't get it." That's a phrase I hear pretty often when people get honest with me about what they think about modern or contemporary art. I've spent quite a lot of time in the last year contemplating what it means to "get it." I think when most people use the phrase in relation to contemporary art, they think that there is some secret message that the artist is trying to convey to them and if only they knew the secret code, the viewer could crack the riddle and "get it." Well folks, there's no secret code to understanding contemporary art, but there are ways to become familiarized with the themes, techniques, and motivations of working artists.

The Art 21 TV series by PBS is probably the best user-friendly introduction into appreciating and understanding contemporary art. Seeing these artists work and hearing them talk about their work is really exciting for me and gets my brain going a million directions at once. Considering the show from a Christian understanding of the world, there are so many entry points to thinking deeper about our relationship to the earth, other people, and ultimately God and the nature of reality.

You can watch the whole series online for free at Hulu.