Modern Con-Art

Last year, I went to view pieces of modern art. I had not gone to many art museums, and little did I know that by the end of the visit, I would be glad that I had not. Art should enthrall the viewer with elements like the beauty of the night sky or the mystique in the smile of Mona Lisa. The pieces I saw did just the opposite. My trip to the Addison was an uncomfortable reminder that the definition of art is deteriorating. Random scribbling in fashion reminiscent of a two year old, a gathering of firewood, or a blank canvas are now hung up in museums and considered ingenious pieces. So often I hear raves about how brilliant these artists are. These men are definitely brilliant artists. Brilliant con-artists. As we went through the exhibits, my class carefully scrutinized these pieces. I shot a quick glance at one of them, and a sensation of disbelief overwhelmed me. It was a white sheet of paper colored with white crayon. At first I thought it was some sort of joke, but then my teacher began to ramble on and on about how the piece’s elements make us ponder deep and intelligent thoughts. But what makes this white sheet of paper different from any other? My teacher was right about the fact that the sheet of paper made me ponder. It made me ponder who in the world bought this piece of junk and actually put it in an art gallery. He then asked us to define the artist’s purpose. After searching for a nonsensical answer, I came to the conclusion that perhaps it is possible that the artist had no purpose whatsoever. It is likely that the “creator” of such a piece had little imagination, a lack of talent, and corrupt intentions. Perhaps he knew that he could make money easily by selling a piece like this to idiotic buyers. Apparently his plan worked since it is hanging in the Addison. Apparently this never occurred to my teacher. I wanted to speak out against his irrational conception, but feared I would be shunned for not taking the politically correct approach. I stayed quiet, but things only got worse. The next exhibit was a collection of toilet paper rolls. One of my peers was able to construct a politically correct answer, but I did not buy his reasoning. I thought to myself, “perhaps the next time I’m in the bathroom, I’ll save that toilet paper roll and hand it in as my art project. Perhaps that is all it takes to get a six.” Throughout the exhibit, none of our classmates, including myself, dared to unleash our disgust. By the end of the visit, I had a lingering thought in my mind. If it had been me submitting the white crayon paper, the collection of logs, or the toilet paper rolls as an art project, my teacher would have stared quizzically at me as if I were some idiot and yell what were you thinking. On the other hand, if my name were Pablo Picasso and I had some of my earlier pieces accepted, then my work would go into exhibits like these and he would praise my “brilliance.” Modern art has gotten out of hand, and its evils have permeated not only Phillips Academy’s art museum, but also its beautiful landscape. There is a statue across from Bartlett Hall that I am sure you have seen and cracked a joke about. With all of Andover’s historic buildings such as Sam Phil and the Bell Tower, some random person is able to place a large statue that clearly resembles a phallus right in the center of campus. My house counselor would cringe if he heard me utter the word “penis,” so how is it possible that the school allows this statue to stand so prominently? I have tried convincing myself by looking at it from different angles and points of view that it does not actually resemble male genitalia. Those politically correct people like my art teacher could make something up about how it is only an abstract representation of the union of Phillips and Abbot. Unfortunately, I cannot accept these disillusioned answers. When outsiders make their way to the statue, they are no longer captivated by the beauty of our campus. Instead, they stop in front of Bartlett, pointing and making wisecracks about the atrocious piece of “art.” Some modern art has crossed the line. We cannot do anything to stop tasteless, valueless, and meaningless exhibits from winding up in museums and galleries, but we have the power to stand up for what is right here at Andover. These pieces of rubbish poison the integrity of the Academy and it is critical that we fight for their removal.