Monday, March 31, 2014

It Is Or Isn't

hmmm….that's interesting….

That is a common response heard in trendy galleries or modern museums when viewing works of art. I've heard it more times than I can count. In my experience it is said most by those who lack the knowledge, expertise or the ability to bullshit their way in describing what they don't understand without self embarrassment. Smart choice.

Me? Whenever I have been in that situation and asked if I like something I say so. If I don't I say I don't like it. But that's just me. I prefer keep my mouth shut if I don't understand it and neither hate it or like it. Unless I had too much wine, then I didn't give a crap what I said. Art galleries are places where posers feel the need to act like experts. It's not too hard to spot them.

One sculpture I drive by each day captures my attention and my imagination. Don't know why I like it but I do.
The sculpture in the above photo resides at the entrance of Purdue University's North Central extension campus just south of the Indiana Toll Road (I-80) on SR421.

My son went there for a year or so before committing to the West Lafayette main campus to serve out the remainder of his sentence. PU/NC has a few other sculptures along the road but I don't care much for them. Most are abstract interpretations of some industrial flotsam or jetsam, some could be interpretations of a female or male, whatever.

What I see in this particular Purdue sculpture projects movement, strength, progress and in a way, intelligence. There's a flow to it that seems casual and free, happy, almost lifelike. Static it's not. I see jaunty without swagger (gawd I hate that word). The bare metallic luster and the angle in which it was placed catches sunlight ever so perfectly as the sun passes east to west creating stark contrasts and casting unusual shadows. Not many modern sculptures impress me as this one does. It is interpretive yet it has a realistic quality that suggests something to me without being able to tell just what that is. This sculpture seems very well thought out and quite appropriate for where it stands.

For the most part public sculpture bores the hell out of me specifically the ultra modern interpretive stuff. A lot of it looks like a waste of money. Like that innocuous "Bean" in Chicago's Grant park or those rusty legs without torsos farther south. That Bean thing reminds me of a kitchy old backyard garden reflecting globe so popular back in the 60's that happened to distort or melt. And that Picasso thing that occupies space in Daley Plaza is nothing but a rusty pile of awfulness. Interesting? No.This may place me in a minority but I think all those are a big waste of time and money.

That Purdue sculpture is much more than interesting…to me.

4 comments:

Dan from Madison said...

I like Pi.

Terry from Crown Point said...

Sounds as if you prefer the ones with fig leaves, or perhaps the Egyptian sphinxters.

Terry from Crown Point said...

Check out the work of Richard Serra. Intellectual and sophisticated w/out slippery arrogant descriptions of his modern sculpture. Worked in a steel mill for $$ early on.
God rest his soul, he had a lot of it.22

Gerry from Valpo said...

Pi in my face. Never noticed the resemblance..