Modern Art – Museum of Modern Art, New York

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan has a wonderful collection of modern art from the late 1800s to the turn of the millennium. I sometimes do wonder how long will modern art be called modern! Mainly spread across two floors, the collections range from the Picassos to the Baers, from the Braques to the Pullocks and many more. But what has come to be known as modern art has changed over centuries. Van Gogh, in its medieval form, used the paint right out of the tubes to create the “Starry Night”


Gustav Klimt and Georges-Pierre Seurat used the size 0 brushes to elegantly create masterpieces through brush spots rather than brush strokes.



In 1907, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque developed a mathematical visual with geometric shapes depicting the traditional subjects of the medieval realism. Cubism, as this art form came to be known as, is tough to decipher but somewhere in the maze will be a clue to the subject.


It was really after the world war era that things started to change drastically about what seemed to be perceived as modern art. In fact the initial change was in the subjects – from traditional landscape, nudes and still life, they started to depict themes of the post war frustrations, like this painting by Giorgio de Chirico in 1914.


There were however a few welcome oddballs during this time, like the Monet’s water lilies.


But in general, art started to be perceived as beyond just oil and canvas. Props started to fill up the canvas alongside oil paint. Being an ardent fan of realism and early modern art, I must admit that this change, to me, seems rather a sign of laziness, a half hearted effort to complete an art faster.

Art today seems to be about filling up a canvas with one or two colors rather than create a masterpiece with a rainbow of them. Take for example this artwork by Jo Baer, of three canvases painted in white, with a border of red, blue and green.


Or this one by Reinhardt, which he describes as aesthetically close to monotone chinese paintings.


Over the years though, art has changed from its oil on canvas form to photographs, prints, and several other creative forms, a lot of which are truly fantastic. The fact that prints and photographs require a different level of talent to visualize and capture those moments, is still an encouraging sign that art is not all dead. Let me leave you with this beautifully crafted print from MoMA of Beatles. Unfortunately I do not recall the artist.


I must admit, these are just my biased views and I’m always open to different perspectives.


~ by Niranjan Nandakumar on October 25, 2016.

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