Modern Art: A Primer

People often say of modern art, "my pre-schooler could draw that" or some variation. But I read an article in Psychology Today a couple of years back describing a study someone had done — they showed little kids art by masters and then had them recreate the image. The closest matches were shown side by side with the original and people were asked to pick the better version. Overwhelmingly, participants picked the piece done by the master artist. Turns out pre-schoolers *can’t* do that.

So what are the fundamentals of modern art, and what basic terms and information does one need to appreciate or evaluate a Pollock, as opposed to kindergarten splatter? If I’m watching ballroom dancing, I know how (for a layman) to assess the way the torso and arms are held… what’s the modern art equivalent to that?

It would also be interesting to see a comparison and brief synopsis of the major artists in the movement; Pollock is the only one I know.

  • This would be a great article! As a fellow artist I often used to look at Pollock's and get mad, telling myself I could do the same but never get paid for it. Even when I try it doesn't look quite the same, as aesthetically pleasing.. something just isn't right. I guess it's not my style but what is it in some artists that can make blocks of colour or splatters appealing? I think it's something primal in our brains that reacts to these abstract paintings and colours which only certain painters can capture right. – Slaidey 9 years ago
  • I would like to say most successful artists have a formal background in art. They understand design placement, horizon, foreground, background and the color variations. After this education they are free to experiment and express themselves in modern art. I was just thinking about the Pollock film the other day, so that would be a good place to start. The author can get a feel for Pollock's work and a better understanding of how a good foundation and the role of mental health help to produce works of such magnatitude. – Venus Echos 9 years ago

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