A lot is said against modern art. People comment on how it is impossible to make sense of, or that ‘anybody could do it’. Meanwhile those in support of modern art, reference how it is set against the establishment, and that it has the ability to make people think. The Gallery of Modern Art manages to encompass everything that modern art should be; as well as art that is (as the man who was standing next to me put it), quite bluntly, bollocks.
The ‘Every Day’ exhibit downstairs was named accurately. Someone had obviously gone shopping in Ikea, and then displayed random bits of furniture more poorly than in a catalogue. Only one piece, entitled ‘Transmission Broken (or you can eat an orange if you leave me the peel’, which featured two huge photographs, one of a belly-button and one of an orange was pleasantly displayed.
The next floor up was an improvement. An exhibition of mostly impressionist or abstract paintings. They made their points neatly and quietly; and then shut up.
On the top floor was an exhibit of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptures and paintings. After the rest of the building’s bland offerings, the bright colours instantly caught my eye. The verbal description of the work described it as ‘naïve’, but it was by far the best work in the building. It was unconventional and thought provoking. It had colour, texture and shape; and it presented all these things without being vague or derivative. Although the colours reminded me of outsider artists such as Henry Darger and Daniel Johnston; and the shapes of Gaudi’s buildings, Niki’s works were as different from these artists as they were similar.
Niki de Saint Phalle knew exactly how to use her imagination to best effect. As a result her rainbow coloured sculptures (mostly of motherly women, but also covering creatures from tarot cards, and pregnant animals) embody everything modern art should be. What is clear is that Niki didn’t have such wild aims for her work when she was making it. It is this innocence that makes what she produced so impressive.