As near as I can figure, 99% of my friends hate modern art. After years of looking at it, I still can’t decide what I think about it. Sometimes I dismiss it with a scoff; other times I peer curiously, and authentically search for meaning.
I was deeply inclined to scoff as I read an article about an University of Iowa professor, who recently gave a presentation about “book sculptures”. That’s right. Garret Stewart, James O. Freeman Professor of Letters, took hardcover books and made sculptures out of them. Check out how the reporter described his collection…
“There were books burned and their ashes used to make ink for new books. A book with eyeballs staring back at the reader from both open pages. Pulped pages from a book turned back into lumber. The majority of the photos were large hardcover books that were cut into different forms, including mountainous landscapes and faces.”
He also made a model gas station out of books. Apparently, this is meant to be a symbol of a book’s energy.
I see the message that Stewart is trying to get across here. But something doesn’t seem right here. It’s too easy. How hard did the guy have to work to burn down books and use the ashes for ink? Someone could do the same thing for practical purposes, if ever a time came where they needed ink that badly, and use the same effort. If the effort for the artistic and the practical is the same, what worth is there in the artistic?
If anything can have meaning in art, then it is all around us. Why bother making what is already there? A white canvas will do as well as a Picasso or a Tintoretto.