Love it or hate it, many people have strong opinions on modern art. Many don't even agree on the definition: it ranges from a physical object or painting, to an idea or dance. These days, it seems like you can put a blank canvas on the wall and call it "art."
To some, it's a way of expressing ideas in original and thought-provoking ways; to others, it's not really "art"... it's more of an excuse to make money from arranging ordinary objects on a table and naming the installation "life." Modern art seems to be somewhat "cool" nowadays, with galleries popping up in cities all over the world, and particularly famous museums like the Guggenheim even having chains in places like Abu Dhabi. The good thing in London -- where I live -- is that plenty of museums are free. This means that you can go and have a look around a modern art exhibition, pretend to like it (even though you don't get what it was supposed to symbolize) and walk out without having wasted any money. Particularly as a teenager, spending no money is a very important part of it. It's also quite a good way to spend a rainy afternoon when you have nothing better to do. I've been to a number of modern art museums, both on family holidays and in London and I have to say, there's something I quite enjoy about looking at the weird sculptures. Admittedly, maybe I just like it because I want to like it, but sometimes the exhibits are actually really cool. I'm not saying that I think particularly hard about the abstract meanings behind the bedazzled skull or shark suspended in a glass box (yep, it was a Damien Hirst exhibition), but they're still arguably more interesting to look at than medieval paintings.
Having said this, I totally get where modern art haters are coming from. Some think there's nothing thought-provoking about a row of ordinary bricks in the middle of an empty room, and yeah, they have a point. There have been many times when, faced with a light bulb hanging from a wire from a ceiling, or a blank canvas with only a black line drawn it, I've though "I could totally have done that." Imagine being able to paint one dot on a canvas and then selling it for a crazy sum of money, just because it has your signature on it... I get that it's meant to be about the idea behind the exhibit, but even so, there's a limit. However, even if you hate it, maybe it's the fact that modern art stirs some kind of feeling within you that makes it worthwhile and important. Modern art does raise the interesting question: what constitutes art? Some say poetry, ballet, music... others say any kind of self-expression. Others would automatically think of the classical painters: Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Raphael. Whatever your definition, I guess it's just good that people are going to galleries and coming out with strong opinions in a world where it's so easy to waste your day on the Internet. It helps when the gallery or museum is free though, that's for sure.