August Ludvigs is an 18-year-old Ameri-Swede who spends his days wandering around Stockholm and my apartment’s kitchen. He has a predilection for colorful words and fancy trousers.
Two weeks ago I was at an art exhibition with my mom at Moderna museet, the Stockholm Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition, aptly named Turner, Monet, Twombly, consisted of paintings by the three artists arranged either thematically or stylistically on what were essentially large, white room partitions. The entire experience was a little odd. I suppose the first indication of this was the throngs of people coming down and walking up the path leading to and from the museum. I’ve found that enjoying art and jostling through large crowds are two disparate affairs that I haven’t yet managed to espouse.
The next odd thing happened at the ticket counter. If you’re 18 or younger you get in for half price. As we stepped up to the counter, the middle aged hipster behind it cooly inquired about my age. I told him was 18. He then demanded that I provide identification so as to prove that I wasn’t older than 18 . It’s perfectly reasonable, I suppose, but seeing as I’d only ever been carded in alcohol-related situations, and only to prove the opposite, it was undoubtedly a little bemusing. I tentatively handed over my ID.
“Ha-ha! I see that you turn 19 this year”, exclaimed the man in a tone of voice you might had you narrowly caught a visitor trying to sneak an artwork home.
I pointed out that my birthday is in November. The logic seemed sound.
* * *
The exhibition was excellent. A lot of Twombly’s paintings, unlike Turner and Monet’s, were covered in writing and nonsensical text, and it struck me that the fundamental problem with modern art is this: Today, art is defined as being something that challenges your perceptions. Traditionally, art has been defined as being something aesthetic. I think Twombly’s train of thought goes something like this: Text is usually associated with scholarship, and, consequently, text on a painting challenges your perception of art, which is generally associated with beauty. However, art based on such principles must constantly redefine itself, which is the only way it can justify its own existence. Inevitably, art of this nature quickly degenerates into the many despicable examples of “art” we’re left with today.
The exhibition was excellent, for the most part.