I try not to be a miserable, complaining, grouchy person, so instead 0f whining here about the millions of things in the world that I dislike, I prefer to post pictures of things I do like. But there seems to be a big retrospective under way of the art of my least favorite "great" artist, Willem de Kooning. Smithsonian Magazine has a feature about this online, with lots of pictures. Every one makes me cringe. The one above, Woman I (1950-1952), pretty much distills everything I hate about 20th-century art. It is ugly to no particular purpose, evokes no emotion but a vague disgust, expresses no idea, connects to no cause or purpose beyond the artist's career, contains no striking or memorable image, and exhibits no special skill at anything beyond uglification. It was during the two years he spent working on this monstrosity that de Kooning said, "Beauty becomes petulant to me. I like the grotesque. It's more joyous."
Here is another in the same vein, Two Women in the Country (1954). I suggest that a better title would have been Two Misshapen Trolls, Clumsily Rendered, in a Hodgepodge Landscape, Supposed to be Profound because it is Nasty.
One might call this genre, "sort of like Picasso but worse." (Woman Sitting, 1943-1944) I know some people like these distorted images, but I have never understood why a painting of a woman in a chair shouldn't actually look like a woman in a chair. Oh, sure, shift of perspective, breaking away form convention, blah, blah. What is gained to compensate for the loss of realism, and the great increase in ugliness?
I find this (Untitled III, 1981) less offensive. It doesn't say anything at all to me, but I prefer the complete absence of message to the ugly shouting (UGLINESS IS BEAUTY! THE GROTESQUE IS THE SUBLIME! IF YOU DON'T SEE THIS, YOU ARE A PHILISTINE WHO CAN'T UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF MY ARTISTIC VISION!!! GO BACK TO YOUR AVERAGE SUBURBAN HOUSE AND MOURN YOUR QUIETLY DESPERATE LIFE!!!) of those hideously distorted women. And that pretty yellow color would look nice in the right living room.
And this (Attic, 1949) I actually kind of like. Suggested forms emerge from the lines in an interesting way, but never become too obvious, and the muted black and white scheme keeps the ugliness from grating too much.
But I think I'll be skipping the de Kooning retrospective.