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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
What do you think of modern art?
Interior of Tate Modern Art Gallery, London
London's Tate Modern art gallery celebrates its fifth anniversary on Wednesday.

Created from the derelict Bankside power station, the gallery cost 134m and was part funded by the Lottery.

It offers free art in line with the legacy of Henry Tate, who left the nation his collection, and has attracted more than 20 million visitors.

It has been a success though some critics say it "promotes inane silliness" and that the exhibitions can be a little dull.

Do you think that the Tate Modern gallery has succeeded in bringing art to a wider audience? What do you think of modern art? Send us your comments.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Good art, modern or otherwise, is capable of being appreciated by anyone, and should not need "education" for the viewer to be able to get something out of it. Personally, I also feel that the creation of the art, not simply the conception of it, should take some degree of skill, although there are very rare original exceptions to this. So while I don't particularly like much of Tracy Emin's work, I can at least accept that some of it took some talent, unlike the infamous pile of bricks or the signed urinal. Having said all this, I reckon a lot of non-modern art is rubbish, too.
JonG, Huddersfield UK

Modern Art! I am a landscape oil painter 20 yrs experience. Traditional methods of application take time, modern Art is 'quick, easy, knock up stuff'. Anyone with a bit of imagination can produce it and stick ridiculous prices on it.
Mark, Portsmouth

I speak here as someone who has been an enthusiast and student of art since childhood. I can say without a doubt that the modern art world is infested with pretentious frauds. Second and third rate efforts abound in galleries based on merit of the "statement" they supposedly make, while many true artists with real talent, technical skill, and vision languish in obscurity because there work does not contain the blatant, meaningless controversy needed by today's art world. A few quality artists make it through, but the majority is rubbish.
Adam, WV, USA

Any art is that which provokes a reaction - music, paintings, poetry, dance - it doesn't matter what the medium. Even if you hate it - that's a reaction! Saying all modern art is rubbish means you have never really seen any and probably own a print of the blue boy, currently hanging in your toilet!
P, Menai Bridge, North Wales

I'm fed up with hearing justifications for modern art which cite the fact that men like Monet and da Vinci were criticised in their time. So what? This argument (if valid) could justify absolutely anyone being an artist and anything being art. It is a total fallacy. Am I to be appreciated as a 'master' in the future because no one thinks I can draw now? I doubt it. 'Nuff said'.
Ollie, Oxford

Art should be greater than the sum of its parts
Mike Richmond, Guildford, England
My test of whether art is worth going to see is whether there is a significant difference between reading a description and looking at it. Damian Ortega's molecule made of nachos has a visual impact stronger than the description; Tracy Emin's unmade bed doesn't (for me). Art should be greater than the sum of its parts.
Mike Richmond, Guildford, England

Modern art is generally "Emperor's new clothing". Those of us who do not see something profound or amazing within it are deemed stupid. Personally I prefer a nice Monet.
Martin Noon, Romford, Essex

I love modern art, I am surrounded by it every day as I work on a building site surrounded by piles of bricks. Bring it on!
Paul Doherty, Leicestershire

Simply art has become a way of getting cash for not much work. If you look at the works of great painters and sculptors in the past, they have used great skill in their creations and this is why they are recognised. Modern art is just trying to create something weird and get people to buy into the idea you are trying to convey a message. People don't deserve money for showing a lack of skill.
David, Wales

I was twice at the Bankside Gallery, though I must admit that modern art keeps me more on my toes than lingering in front of the exhibits. But I enjoyed the Edward Hopper exhibition last year. It's a tremendous location and approaching it from the footbridge across the Thames is a highlight. The older Tate is more to my liking.
Peter Nadig, Aachen, Germany

Art fulfils its function when it provokes a reaction inside an individual
Vicky Brown, Edinburgh, Scotland
Art is a subjective experience - there can be no objective right or wrong, good or bad. Art fulfils its function when it provokes a reaction inside an individual and the Tate Modern should be applauded for providing the catalyst for that reaction.
Vicky Brown, Edinburgh, Scotland

My son (who is 2) creates modern art every day. Can I get a grant from the lottery. I will only charge a small amount per visit as my kitchen is only small.
John, Manchester

This argument can be summed up by one exhibit at Tate Modern: the urinal autographed by Marcel Duchamp in 1917 to demonstrate that art is about selectivity as much as aesthetics. In my view, this is appreciably "good" modern art because its concept was ground-breaking and self-evident (although I wouldn't hang it on my wall). Modern art is "bad" when it is unoriginal and dependent on explanation. Tate Modern can rightfully be criticised for choosing a few such works, where the only artistry involved is con-artistry on the part of the creator.
Paul Tyrrell, London, UK

I was rather sceptical of modern art before my visit to the Tate. The museum has an amazing collection that helps found a true appreciation for the work it houses. A visit to the Tate is a truly exhilarating experience.
Paulina Arent, Herstmonceux, England

An artist should have absolute freedom to create his or her work. Even though you may not appreciate the interpretations of others, you can not put boundaries on art.
Lucy, Leamington

My favourite piece of modern art is the 'token black canvas'
Chris, Germany
My favourite piece of modern art is the 'token black canvas'. That's the canvas painted solid black and called art. I've yet to be to a modern art museum without one. With that example I can say I'm not a big fan.
Chris, Currently Germany, former USA

The vast majority of modern art is simply rubbish. Artists seem to justify pathetic efforts by claiming there is a deeper meaning to them, and the critics lap it up. Tracy Emin's "Unmade bed" is a prime example. The number of modern art pieces that have earned my admiration I can count on one hand. The best, I feel, was the highly controversial portrait of Myra Hindley made from children's palm prints. From afar it seemed a simple painting, but close-up it reminded you of the human cost of the Moors murderers' actions.
Andrew B, Leeds, England

I like most of the celebrated pieces of modern art. But I think the arts in general have been backed into a corner by the romantic cult of originality, and that for this reason, most pieces of modern art have an inevitably narrow appeal. Of all the positive qualities a work of art might have, originality is the least important to me.
Gary Sugar, Chicago USA

Being a self proclaimed art dullard, I was amazed on my visit to the Tate Modern last year. Some stuff just went right over my head, but most of the art was fantastic. Brilliant place, brilliant art. Wish we had more places like it!
Adam, Preston, Lancs

Good modern art should promote modern ideals and ideas in a modern way
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany
Good, modern art should promote modern ideals and ideas in a modern way. Some people criticise modern art off-hand because it doesn't resemble classical art, but then those artists who think art consisting of spitting paint onto a canvas haven't done us any favours.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany

I expect a lot of the replies on here will be from laughably ill-educated people who know nothing about 'art' and wish that the Tate modern was full of pictures of trees and paintings of horses. What they don't understand is that a lot of the art there is deliberately terrible, in both senses, as a way of making them open their eyes. If you don't like it, stay at home and watch TV!!
Robert Gorji, London

I think the Tate Modern has found much success under its banner. I am not an Art geek but still I went to Tate Modern several times. It's the one of the best I have ever seen.
Amir Wasim, Germany

It's all in the eye and heart of the beholder. To declaim and pontificate on whether or not it is worthwhile, rubbish, brilliant, fraudulent et al, is nothing more than, or less than, opinion.
David, Manchester, UK

If a urinal with your name written on qualifies then this bloke called Armitage Shanks must be one of the most prolific artists ever.
Kip, Norwich UK

Modern Art is rubbish or rubbish is modern art, think of that the next time you leave your bin out for collection.
Mark, Dublin Ireland

Saying all modern art is rubbish is like saying all television programmes are rubbish. Some of it's good, some of it's bad. You could argue that conceptual art hasn't developed since the 1920s, and it's been a long time since I've seen a step forward in the art of photography, but you can't argue that the current Britart scene is just junk. However, it's certainly true that the British talk about modern art more than they ever had, and that's a good thing because such talk encourages people to think.
John Gammon, Brighton

A lot of people didn't like 'Ulysses' too when it was published! And that was in the 1930s, when people were much more old-fashioned. You'd thinks things had moved on since then!
C V R Wilks, Antwerp and UK

It is vibrant, world-class and with a wide, culturally diverse audience
D Ward, Doncaster, UK
Have any of the respondents been to Tate Modern? It is vibrant, world-class and with a wide, culturally diverse audience. The BBC website questions deliberately taunts readers into giving a response to modern art in general rather than specific pieces - there is no pretence in higher order thinking and emotional-analytical behaviour in response to someone's creativity. Modern art serves a purpose; to communicate, excite, enthuse, challenge, deny and/or aid understanding, to reject and/or accept humanity and what it is to be human. If you can't handle that, don't go to Tate Modern - stick to shopping.
D Ward, Doncaster, UK

To me, the design and magnitude of the converted power-station is more awe-inspiring than its new contents. It stands as a tremendous example of 'modern art's' potential
Jonny C, London

If art comes from the soul then no matter what it is, when it was made, by whom or what others think of it then it has worth. Qualitative judgements on the value or worth of art can be made by anyone and an informed judgement can be just as ridiculous as an ignorant one can be pertinent.
Brian Donnelly, Bolton

There is no doubt that a lot of modern art is complete rubbish, it is nothing more than a conceptual ideas sold as high art by fraudsters, wheeler-dealers and speculators not to mention critics etc, etc. The art world does not want to look too deeply into it because they have too much invested in it, unlike "ordinary people" who can see it for what it really is - rubbish!
Jonathon B, Oldham

I don't believe that it has brought art to a wider audience as there are other galleries that people visit
Helen, Exeter
The Tate has become a 'must see' for tourists and other visitors. However, I don't believe that it has brought art to a wider audience as there are other galleries that people visit. However, it is the pre-eminent 'modern' gallery and does bring modern art in an accessible way to punters. Modern art is like any other art - some delights and some infuriates. Only time allows perspective and give an artist enduring reputation.
Helen, Exeter

Some modern art is thought provoking, eye-catching and essentially what art is about. A lot of it, especially stuff that gets a lot of publicity or gets nominated for the Turner prize is self indulgent, pretentious nonsense which doesn't so much belong in a gallery so much as in a wheelie bin. This type of trash is giving modern art a bad name and is why you'll never get the masses interested. Why would people travel to an art gallery to see an unmade bed? Anyone with teenagers can just go upstairs and see the same.
Vik, UK

Exhibits at the Tate Modern stimulate many responses including ridicule, humour, respect, amazement, shock and awe. If the artist succeeds in provoking any of these reactions then surely they've created a valid form of art?
Ian McKay, Northamptonshire UK

The Tate Modern amply illustrates the Unclothed Emperor syndrome. On the one hand are "creators" of work, who kid themselves that they're artists, and on the other hand are the viewers who kid themselves (and each other) that they recognise good art. If I were to be allowed to put an exhibit in Bankside power station, I would install a wind turbine. Now that would be art! Or would it?
Chris B, Bedford, UK

Inane silliness? Leonardo da Vinci had his detractors centuries ago and look at his standing now. Nuff said!
Chris, Surrey, UK

When I went, some pieces were interesting but the majority was rubbish surrounding by laughable, pretentious people who were giving it critical acclaim! What I found astounding was the amount of money you can get for loads of garbage (and that's literally what some was - actual garbage!).
Richard, UK

The sheer scale and atmosphere of the main gallery is breathtaking
Peter, Nottingham
Obviously some modern art is incredibly beautiful and skilful while other works are over-priced stupidity. Maybe I'm a philistine but I feel that the Tate Modern gallery (the actual building) is actually worth seeing more than any of its exhibits. The sheer scale and atmosphere of the main gallery is breathtaking.
Peter, Nottingham

I believe that some of the worst and most obscure modern art only gets exhibited because the experts don't want to be seen to 'miss the point'.
Gerry Noble, Salisbury, UK

I just dropped my wheelie bin over and its contents went everywhere. A sure bet on winning the Turner Prize! Modern art? Or a pile of garbage?
William, Darwen, UK

A minority interest that the Tate Modern serves well.
David Ball, Wokingham, UK

I enjoyed visiting the Tate Modern, although I am not particularly knowledgeable about modern art and will probably go back next time I'm in London. There were a few daft/ uninteresting exhibits, but the same could be said of any conventional gallery. After all, for the average person, art - conventional or modern - is largely about personal taste.
Stephanie Boyd, Edinburgh, Scotland




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