The Blank Canvas

Why are we trained to analyse everything to death? From essay experience, the more tenuous the link, hence the more absurd the analysis, the better the grade.
Over-analysing, in its most pretentious form, can be seen in modern art.

I have nothing against it, although I personally don’t see the aesthetic value in a blank canvas.


Piece taken from a collection in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

What exasperates me are the pompous descriptions usually found alongside the piece of said artwork. In other words, it’s not the art that’s conceited, it’s some of us. It’s those people who stand for a good few minutes too long, gazing at the blank canvas, or rather, gazing into the blank canvas, in an astounding bid to decipher the hidden message behind the piece. Next to it, a small card states, ‘This canvas represents the true emptiness of modern-day life. It represents the bleak struggle for this generation as they attempt to cling onto their hopes and dreams.’ Or something equally as disdainful. Meanwhile the artist, who most likely cannot believe his luck, is gleefully planning his second project: The Blank Canvas take 2. No doubt, the second will be more valuable than the first, since it will be judged to convey a deeper meaning…

Life lessons learnt here are that many a modern artist is extremely shrewd, to have tapped into a market allowing them to make lots of money for very little work.


3 thoughts on “The Blank Canvas

  1. Haha. I get what you mean, but I really like modern art (not blank canvases tho) for precisely the reason you have quoted. Things are always fluffy, lovely, happy and joyful – life isn’t like that. The artists choose to express themselves and the complexity of life (with all its light and darkness) via their chosen medium – whether it be a pile of bricks or a canvas dotted with elephant poo. I’m cool with self expression – even if it challenges us – but particularly because it causes us to think twice about what we see, the reasons behind it, and putting ourselves in the artists’ shoes (“what does it mean? Why did they create *that*?) Damien Hirst style self congratulating art (ie only for money) annoys me too – art is a medium, not a tool for creating money.

    Sorry for the mini lecture… (I never studied art history btw!) Does that make sense to you?


    • Hi Jess!
      Thanks for your comment…it does make sense! And I completely agree that it’s a good thing to have self expression and that many people will enjoy the various, if slightly odd pieces of modern art out there. The only problem I have with it, is that it has become such a cult. People have managed to turn something like a blank canvas into something deep, meaningful and priceless -which it clearly is not.
      However, I completely agree that art is a medium, not a tool for creating money! Well said, Jess!


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