Paris: The city of modern art?

To some, Paris is the city of the Louvre and fine art. To some, a city of rich history. To others, its the city of Impressionism and its evolution. For some it is the city of high fashion. For me it is all of these and all, but right now, more importantly, it is the city of modern art.

I should preface by saying that I spent a lot of my life struggling with modern art. Such as most people, it just didn’t make sense. I begun to like it a lot more as I’ve learned more and more about art history. Knowledge is power. Understanding leads to enjoyment.

Clearly, I work in a modern art gallery, so two days a week I’m surrounded by contemporary, oftentimes subject-less often abstract art. It has given me time to look at works in depth and appreciate them more, as well as learn about the artists and the time period.

To add to this, I finally got to the the Centre Pompidou this Saturday. If you don’t know it, the Pompidou is one of the museums in Paris with a lot of modern art. They have a good collection from the Fauvists all the way to works from yesterday. It’s also in the most modern building in Paris, which was pretty controversial. Take a peek below to see why.

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou’s non-traditional facade

Situated right by Hotel de Ville and thousands of other beautiful Parisien buildings, it certainly stands out. I believe the idea behind the architecture is to expose the inner workings of the building and have the functionality and design act together as one.

I went with my buddy Adam, and wandering around the giant permanent collection led to some great discussion. I’ve thought a lot of modern art before and speaking my thoughts aloud really helped develop them. This is far from fully thought out, but here’s approximately where I stand right now.

Traditional art had a subject, and a title that reflected the subject. You look at the title, then the work. It is easy to understand and see the moral lesson presented. The focus was on design and portraying things exactly as they should appear in an ideal world. After that comes Impressionism, when the “subject crisis” begins. Works become harder to understand because they don’t portray an actual scene, and naturalism (the tendency to paint things as they appear to the eye) is minimized. Finally, comes abstraction and there we have it, modern art that people don’t understand. Art makes sense when it portrays something we can understand and see in a context out side of art, when its abstract, it doesn’t immediately make sense.

With that in mind, I like modern abstract art a lot more than I used to. It takes knowing about it, in my opinion, and a little bit of understanding. Some of it is about the process, some necessitates an experience with the viewer, some just makes the viewer think. Abstraction is unique in that it can create different meaning for different viewers. I also love the wide array of creative, medium and manifestations of modern art. While it may not have the technical perfection of David or Ingres, modern art and abstraction has a certain beauty that I now appreciate.

As I develop my ideas more, I’ll write again. For now, here’s some of my favorite pieces, maybe with a description:

 paris skyline

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