Most of what I see is garbage


I hardly ever go to exhibitions and dislike the world of the vernissage; those crowds are the most repulsive of all. These days most art is too conceptual for me, with long descriptions pasted up on the walls of galleries. “Art” should reveal itself to audiences without written explanation. Most of what I see is garbage, sometimes literally so, like an installation with a few cardboard boxes thrown into a corner, an empty beer can and a dirty sleeping bag. This apparently represents the desperate fate of the homeless. I see an absence of dignity in contemporary art. There is too much emphasis on concept, not craft. Just as religion has been watered down by television evangelists, so has art.

~ Paul Cronin, Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

Credits: Photograph by Burt Glinn 1964 NYC. Ad Reinhardt painting at the Museum of Modern Art. Source: Magnum Photos via To Escape from the Commonplaces of Existence.



  1. Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I suppose art is in the eye of the beholder, though I can’t help but think stuff that is generously labeled “art” is just evidence of people’s need for affirmation, grasping for a sense of belonging (the artist pulling the biggest prank and mobs following like leemings; look at the emperor’s beautiful clothes, etc.). I read about an artist who basically spray paints lines from movies and other nonsense on canvas (Christopher Wool) selling his stuff (art?) for millions. The author of the article compared the selling price with the gdp’s of countries, the ability to provide health care, feed groups of people, etc. Disgusting displays of materialism for materialism’s sake. Sorry for the rant, ultimately, art is in eye of the beholder.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, ultimately art is in the eye of the beholder. And yes, I agree with the rest of your shared views as does Herzog in lines that follow the quote that I shared above:

      What makes me particularly suspicious is the speculative art market. A whole set of values is being continuously invented and manipulated, and vast amounts of real money are being paid out. A criminal conspiracy has developed between auction houses, galleries, artists, curators , museums and even those big, glossy magazines. It all reminds me of the prices attached to mediaeval relics, when fortunes were spent to acquire a nail from the True Cross of the Christ, or the bone of a saint. All this is wrapped in “art speak” – an abomination in itself – which makes the whole charade even more unbearable.

      ~ Paul Cronin, Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin (Faber & Faber. 2014)

      Liked by 4 people

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  4. Art galleries can make me in an extremely bad mood, but just occasionally there are gems to be found (actual paintings) amidst all the crap installations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Smiling. I don’t visit enough to form an opinion. Yet, I find the gems to be worth the hunt.


      • I know of various galleries that have a tendency to eat up most of the rather limited council funding allocated to arts and culture, preferring to display works that I can only describe as kindergarten standard, while ignoring some extremely talented artists. As for gems, we did have a wonderful display in our local gallery last year of Lyons Teashop Lithographs!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I couldnt agree more. There is a significant difference between wonderful, original creativity, and much of what passes for “modern” art these days. And if it needs to be explained, then it isn’t art.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am an artist, not a so called ‘professional’ one, but I feel the same about art gallery, especially ‘contemporary’ art, they even appropriated the word to describe it…., like if everything else was from the past…:) and not worth the art world uptight crowd if you dare putting more emphasis on good skills, and less on dark, difficult concept to express, if I would want to convey a deep message, I would prefer to write a post or an article, some can achieve that in painting, but so few…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Amber Danette says:

    I have to agree; Art and Writing seems to be decided by the critics. They have to fit into a certain Genre else they are considered no good. This is very sad, that people allow others and their narrow minds to dictate what art one should display and create.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Well said. It reminds me of one of my college professors who once said something along these lines: “…if artist needs to explain his art, he is not a very good one. He should be able to express everything he wants to say through his medium.” In a way, I see this statement as a rejection of conceptual art: a pile of garbage needs a wall of text to become art. This is just something that came to my mind when reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. Thanks for sharing. Smiling as I tend to agree. I will also say that I have evolved to a more nuanced perspective from the black and white days of my youth and it lands in three camps:

      1) As others have shared earlier, the love of a particular work of Art is in the eye of the beholder.

      2) Werner Herzog again with a quote on music but I think it applies to all forms of art (music, poetry, literature). In other words, if it moves me, whatever it is or may be, I’m less worried about the “What” (WHAT IS IT? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?) and move to a mindset of appreciating the work.

      “Yet when the music is playing, no explanations are required; primordial feelings suddenly reverberate within us. The stories make sense and audiences are shaken. Strong inner truths shine through, and the veracity of facts no longer matters. Everything is possible.”

      ~ Paul Cronin, Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

      3) And from da Vinci, who I believe cuts to the essence of this discussion: Do you FEEL? Does it MOVE you?

      “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

      ― Leonardo da Vinci

      Liked by 2 people

  9. like wine for me – i know it is or is not for me immediately when i taste it. my instincts rule my senses.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Everything I’ve wanted to say about art but was afraid to. Very nicely done!

    I do agree though , if it moves you, you are moved! But, if I am going to pay to see it, I’d rather be moved than not. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. agree so much with ptero9–I am not brave enough to say what I really feel sometimes–this really hits home

    Liked by 1 person

  12. wow. can’t believe all the haters that showed up. I thought this post was cynical and judgmental. Sorry, but that’s what I think. I don’t like all art, but I don’t like all blog posts either. Doesn’t stop me from appreciating the effort. I assume that every viewer brings something different to the experience of art. There have been instances that I thought a piece was silly the first time I saw it, only to have it reappear in my consciousness over time. If that’s not effective art, I don’t know what is. New and different isn’t always bad. And “likable” isn’t always good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your views Margaret. Thoughtful. I happen to agree with your point of view (if this isn’t the best example of straddling a fence). I shared my thoughts above in a response to macconchobair. I can also say that there is a lot of trash on Television. Herzog has strong views on TV as well. My point of view is if you like it great, watch. If you don’t, turn it off and go do something else you enjoy. I think this is analogous to appreciation of Art.


  13. Herzog is really creeping into your brain. I love when a writer does that.
    As to the art thing–as an artist and a writer, I’m resigned to the fact that what I do won’t ever make me rich. I love what I love, and it’s not what those who hand out the money want. I’m okay with that these days. It doesn’t stop me from making art or writing. And I know when I share it somebody will be touched. That’s good enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Alex Jones says:

    I have to agree. Art should be an intimate experience between the artist and the viewer like a beautiful poem, but sadly too often is abstract, the message beyond the comprehension of the viewer. A poem has no need to tell, it shows, and should be the same for art.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Alex Jones says:

    With regards to Herzog, I have seen his beautiful video, the Cave of Forgotten Dreams and consider him a great storyteller.

    Liked by 1 person

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