Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)

The “Eh?” in Art

The “Eh?” in Art.

Many who have striven to detect the motive of modern art have been carried away by the subject—on stretchers. Apparently it is as unexplainable as it is inexplicable. It is “art” with a large “eh???” It is distinguishable from art with a small “a” at about a thousand paces, with the naked eye. It is so striking that it leaves one stunned, stymied, stumered and staggered. Scarred veterans who have braved a dozen campaigns, and have bitten the dust of so many battlefields that one would imagine they could swallow anything, cry for the stretcher-bearers when confronted with superlative specimens of this deadly weapon of ultra-modern “whaffor.” Moaning, they mutter: “Sir, it ain't cricket, although they've got the ‘bats.”’

Time was when all art was spelt with a small “a” and one could breast up to a picture and say with confidence: “That is a cow,” or “That is the Leaning Tower of Pisa.” There was practically no possibility of getting the cow and the tower mixed and saying: “That is the Leaning Cow of Pisa.” Also, you were not assailed by doubts as to whether the tower got like that through the cow leaning on it, or whether the cow got lean through the tower falling on it. And finally, you did not come away wondering whether you had been looking at Pisa or pea soup, a cow or a clutch of tomatoes.

In those simple days an artist made up his mind what he would paint before he painted it. Seldom did he begin by painting “nesting chilblains” and then, halfway through, change it to “Cheeses exploding on the Zuyder Zee.” To make it easier, the thoughtful artist labelled his work, “Girl Nursing Grievance,” or whatever she was nursing, which left no room for doubt or argument. An artist said to himself: “Here goes for Luggers in a Storm,” and when it was hung the veriest dunce could see that it wasn't the Aga Khan winning the Derby.