This Is Modern Art

This Is Modern ArtThis Is Modern Art was a series written and presented by the English art critic Matthew Collings.

The series won several awards including a BAFTA. It became popular both because of its sometimes jokey and sometimes thoughtful explanations of the work and attitude of a new wave of artists that had recently been publicized in the British mass media, and because of its author's witty and irreverent, though clearly highly informed, commentary style.

Collings went on to create several more TV series and programmes for Channel 4, including Impressionism: Revenge of The Nice, and This Is Civilisation.

Focuses on the current state of modern art, and looks back at Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol to see how they changed the definition of art. Reveals the ways modern art attempts to shock the audience.

Investigates on whether the once accepted view of art as merely a thing of beauty prevails today, examining the works of various artists.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 2 hours, 29 minutes)

Ratings: 7.36/10 from 25 users.

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49 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Farking Spamhell

    Great to see all the different modern Art through the ages. Also shows you some of the raw personalities behind the art.

    However its mostly dark and depressing influenced too much by the presenter. Bits of light but mostly dark. Worth watching though.

    Hate Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol. Shame there was no Banksy.

  2. NaoCat

    Modern art is rubbish, go watch "Why Beauty Matters" instead >.>

  3. richardsomers

    Come on, really? All modern art is rubbish? You must be kidding me!

    Beauty changes, as does it's context, and the language of art. I guess trolls, like paintings of flowers, and windmills, with no social context, where the only thing they demand from the viewer is admiration.

    sounds pointless to me.

  4. richardsomers

    Come on, really? All modern art is rubbish? You must be kidding me!

    Beauty changes, as does it's context, and the language of art. I guess trolls, like paintings of flowers, and windmills, with no social context, where the only thing they demand from the viewer is admiration.

    sounds pointless to me.

  5. delhibiguy

    Episode 3 part 1 is missing... But this is a brilliant documentary never the less. It's great when seen in combination with "Why Beauty Matters". Thanks for posting these.

  6. Guest

    Modern Art is a reflection of the way we live, the same way art has always been a reflection of the way people lived.
    In this present time, everything goes, modern artists explore all the senses.
    Creating art is no longer only for the trained artist, art has paired itself with music, with digital possibilities, with food, with anything one wishes to portray his inspiration with.
    The artist is no longer confined to having to express the "normal".

  7. Guest

    As a french artist myself, what i miss most here is not to express myself in French but to express myself in photography.

  8. Guest

    go see Autumn Skye in facebook...great Modern artist

    or her web site under

    Modern Art is as wide as the ideas behind it, and yes many show inner beauty.

  9. richardsomers

    I will go even further. "fine art," is simply a market, a slice of a economic pie, rather than "Art." When people are arguing about "fine art," they are arguing about a speculative market, rather than the totality of human expression.

    So NaoCat is upset about the loss of beauty, well this is only a sliver of the "art" market, rather than art itself. Take a walk, or buy some landscape art, from some local artist; the realm of "fine arts," is concerned with only with a dialogue that is, i would admit, facile, but this dialogue is directed at the masses, only at those who are engaged in this conversation.

  10. richardsomers

    Watched "why beauty matters," and it is a clumsy polemical attack on modern art, with to many broad statements, and definitions used to progress the basic argument.

  11. Farking Spamhell

    You want to see great modern art, see Banksy.

    I think he is an absolute genius.

    His art is really entertaining.

    He is also anonymous. No one really knows who he is.
    (Unlike the prostitutes of modern art such as Tracey Emin and Andy Warhol)

  12. House Of Pleasure

    Better yet watch The Mona Lisa Curse by Robert Hughes. I’m pretty sure this site has the links else Youtube is your friend. It's a documentary that is critical about contemporary art but doesn’t attack it. The documentary also does a good job explaining how art did arrive at it’s current state.

  13. Natalia Fateyeva

    agreed with NaoCat.."beauty and language or art has changed, modern art reflects modern life", does this defense get any more cliche? Classical art's worth is eternal because (among other things) the issues it explores are timeless (as the level of execution is exceptional) and only what manges to be timeless and exceptional at once truly does matter.Classical art is a (succcessful) attempt to lift us up, beyond the mediocrity. Now,as the majority lives a shallow, empty, mass-produced life, where it is ok, if not preferable, to be mediocre,modern "art" chooses to be a slave to that,in a pathetic attempt to glorify it..and that is when it fails to be Art. It is the loud voice of those who are afraid to truly feel, and only want to express.

  14. Natalia Fateyeva

    agreed with you, and yes, that documentary by Roger Scruton is very much worth watching..except not everyone is ready to face the simple truth it lays out, as too many are weary of having to be pulled up towards the beautiful...attempts of modern "artists" might be an adequate expression of the modern life, and while this makes it important, this does not make it art.

  15. Riana Møller

    I find it such a hypocrisy, that these people compare themselves with Michelangelo di Lodovico and Leonardo da Vinci, proudly putting the "Artist label" on them, displaying them alongside themselves in galleries all over the world. While on the other hand slapping down modern day comic artists, animators and concept artists as being commercial low-lives. Hardly offering them the smallest spotlight for their hard work.

    Are they forgetting that both Renaissance painters were doing paid work for a massive industry, the biggest and most corporate organization in the world really? That they are commercial themselves? Closer related to Stan Lee than Pablo Picasso.

    Art should be taken to heart by the meaning of the word ART itself, "techn?": which means "mastery of a craft" Pushing the human skills to their limits and creating worlds of beauty inside them.

    That we want to celebrate the odd and creative is just blessed, I'd dread a world without the puzzling insight of these people and their work, but when these preformers use acting and salesman ship to declare their superiority above all other types of artists.

    Well.. that gets me depressed.

  16. theonegus

    art doesnt give a s*** what you think about it. it is there to challenge, it looks to the future. if youre looking in the past you are in the wrong conversation. first they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win.

  17. Cristina Iordache

    I have never been compelled to say anything about any forum ...BUT WAS INSPIRED to look at the BOOK CHOICES a friend of a friend..GUY BURWELL...recommended . I respect him FIRST and FOREMOST as A PERSON,... SO THUS ...I am here...I really don't need to read your complaints...and crazy rants.......( Because ...Here at this moment in time) ,(I MYSELF...NOW)...and YOU previously and YOU in the FUTURE...(Were an ARTIST when you Voiced an opinion on """THIS""""" """"""HERE""""" """"""PUBLIC""""" FORUM"""""...ART """"PROVOKES"""" and """"FUELS..."""""PUBLIC FREE SPEACH"""""...yes even you! And you know who you be nice to each other...and let people feels good....

    AND FOR THE RECORD! ...Andy Warhol, I'm sorry you were right...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahaha....

  18. Cristina Iordache

    OK so...I just REALIZED that what he was trying to show me was a documentary...which I'm about to watch...unfortunately yes, to the OLD WISE ONES....THAT IS how young people communicate...GET over it...learn to ADAPT...and start talking TO the YOUNG PRETTY FOLKS! they are kind of pretty cool these days and very WELL INFORMED!

  19. Rachelnico

    I liked this doc, thought it was great. I don't understand why there are so many angry posts below ... it is what it is, appreciate it because it's constantly changing.

  20. Camille Lemon

    Great doco - nothing to get angry at - modern art is what it is - people will get over the shock & we'll return to great talent & ability - as that gift & displaying it is the type of enduring art - people won't be considering the can of poop great art in the years to come - the pendulum just swingeth


    Not so Camille; Art is a nebulous word who's meaning changes from Artist to Artist and viewer to viewer. The conformation of what is Art (perhaps at worst) is the trilogy between the Artist, the piece and the viewer. ie, if someone does it and someone likes it, sort of like s#x, then there is a 99.9%, chance someone else will like it also. I admit that is an over simplification. Art is journalism primordially speaking. I have to quote Picasso here, (paraphrasing), in ref. to someone making a comment about his work, "If someone hands me a book in English and i can't understand English that doesn't mean that the book is not filled with lots of valuable information. When you speak of talent and ability i take it you are in essence referring to penmanship. Camille i have been a visual Artist for some forty or fifty years now. I have achieved what you refer to as "realism" through understanding not "technique". It's hand spirit coordination not hand eye. Now that being said Art is also the talent & ability to reproduce something you see, ie; hand eye coordination. Life is not that external Camille, passion, love and understanding are just a few examples. I paint or draw things that take place in the future not at will but when summoned, in a seance; this isn't a clairvoyant process or some special gift i have it's something we are all able to do.


    Just skip that last statement Vlatko i lost it there! Thank you for the divine intervention.



    How does one express without feeling? I refer you to Goya, and yes one does become a slave to Art. And yes there are a lot of fame seekers perhaps these are not Artist. The same type of people and the same wanta be's existed in the days of old only you only know about the ones who made it, so to speak. Why make snod remarks about things you don't understand. For one thing the kings and the popes in days of old would not allow the freedom the Artist have in today's world. I realize i am swimming up stream against a heavy current here. You know i will be 70 this coming January and there are some days i hate Art, did i say that!, i apologize Natalia for not being Michael Angelo.


    Thanks for Banksy Farking Spamhell,


    farking spamhell my tendency is to agree with you on Warhol however in my youth i didn't know i didn't know but now i know what i don't know and though Warhol seams bland to me, at this time, i realize that Art is journalism and his style along with most contemporary visual Artist is more so About Something then of something, if that makes any seance. I have respect for him though i feel that his message is sort of like a satire, it's a back handed complement towards our shallow materialistic way of life. It's still an important message to those who love our capitalistic way of life and to us who have grown to dislike it for the most part. ART IS NOT PRETTY OR BEAUTIFUL ALL THE TIME!




    bravo theonegus!


    The problem again Natalia is your defining "Art" according to what you like and i am sorry but that just doesn't cut it and also by your statement this tells me you might not be an Artist or you would understand that.

  29. DilipTT

    I really enjoyed reading all these comments..... It helps me as a budding artist......

  30. Scott Jones

    Tried to make it through some of the This is Modern Art selection, but had to shut 'er down. Just regurgitating old cliches, no real connections drawn or insights to offer. Plays up the typical stereotypes without any investigation. Too sarcastic and superficial to be of much interest.?

  31. Guest

    Ho darn...that is so beautiful.....thank thank thank you!

  32. Chaz Ed

    Art? Modernists, impressionists and grim stream! I understand the rebellion of traditional art, but this is where I draw the line! I mean really, excrement as art? Just bad taste! If contains some passion and beauty then it might hold my attention! Quite possibly, the smoldering ashes of the Santa chocolate exhibit could be considered art! I think it would be more interesting!

  33. Chaz Ed

    The darkness and the understanding of it are not the opposite of passion, love and understand! It will soon pass as will bad artists and all those that truly do not possess the passion, love and understanding to create beauty! What can seem as a radical movement is in reality only a thought in the mind of a man! It's that individual that has to stand for his effort! If others want to scream and follow the piper, then let them follow! That's not to say I do not understand! It is as bad graffiti that defiles instead of lifting! A rotting skinned cow's head in a glass case is not art! It is mud in a bucket at best!

  34. Chaz Ed

    They don't have to give a s***! Everyone does it everyday! Is that art?

  35. Chaz Ed

    Explain to Riana how you or others or the "artist" thinks this is beauty! Filming two people screaming and defecating in a bucket or what ever shock value they intend to present is not art! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and yes people judge art or the lack of it! ie, I once attended a punk rock show where the front man defecated on stage and threw it at his audience and then climbed the ceiling trusses nude! Was that art? Will that bit of shock value send his name down in history? To some yes. To me, I would as soon forget I was there!

  36. gsjikwblao

    I get the impression that people are not really interested in art. What they are interested in is looking like they are interested. I heard a story of a famous modern artist who took a painting that was painted by his six year old daughter and signed his name to it and the public, and critics as well, thought it was some of his best work. To be dynamic, art must evolve. Since it wasn't possible to change for the better, given the great art of the past, in order to change, it jumped into the toilet.

  37. Norman Pascual

    You said it yourself art is no longer for the trained artists. Youre right because apparently everyone who can remember the names of those who f*ucked them and post them inside a tent is in your standard - an artist. All you really need is a shocking theme. But truly is that what its all about? shock? Come on people let's all be artists and fill this world with more f*ckin nonesense. It dosnt call for a liberal and open mind it requires an uncritical mind. these so-called-artists works would only appeal to the ignorant. disgusting.

  38. Norman Pascual

    Do you seriously believe u know what youre saying?

  39. Norman Pascual

    Ya those two you mentioned are idiots.

  40. Kezo Takemura

    This, THIS is the primary reason I do NOT consider myself an Artist, as it is only a badge of gratuitous worship of one's own narcissistic sickness..Instead I consider myself an Illustrator, the exact thing that "Artistes" hold in arrogant contempt..

    Andy Warhol was not an artist, more like a self-indulgent fop, that Cut&Pasted, and conned (To similar BS artists) his way to fame...I detest "modern artists" as the arrogant self absorbed phonies that they are! Real Artists are what I now consider as sculptors and illustrators, as the term (Artist) holds no real positive meaning for me any more..

    And no, it didn't jump into the toilet, but was taken over from that which originated out of the toilet!

  41. gsjikwblao

    Thank you for your comment. I respect your opinion.

  42. L L

    Really? Personally, they express the same ideas... just look at the posts :)

  43. Greg

    What is art continues to be decided by the upper class. The so called intelligentsia who are in the know and know all those who matter. Neither you nor I can decide what is art unless we make it ourselves to hang on our wall or pay heed to others to tell us what is art. Then and only then can we know what fashion is because any chosen art is entered into a realm that distinguishes it and makes it worthy. The trend this documentary describes is based more on personality than on any "artistic" skill. Media like graphic design, movies and photo editing have co-opted "skill". Ugly is the new beautiful.

  44. Dave Burns

    No one can tell you what art is. Like Kurt Vonnegut's daughter (i think) said 'I could ride a bike through the Lourve and just say yes no yes no yes no'.

    If you're relying on people to tell you what art is then you're not really getting it. Art doesn't have to be beautiful or skilful. It just has to elicit a powerful response in an individual. You might like something, you may consider it art. No-one can tell you you are wrong. That is art. It's about you. It's not about artists and definitely not about critics.

  45. a_no_n

    i disagree...What is the powerful responce in some burk turning the lights on or off, or painting three sheets of paper flat red?

    I'm afraid these days, artists and critics are just about the be all and end all...It's certainly not about expression anymore.

  46. a_no_n

    i think laying the credit for freedom of speech at the door of art is wrongly glossing over a lot of people who picked up (and continue to pick up) guns and swords (not so much now) to fight and die for that freedom of speech in the first place!

    It's a bit like saying David Hasselhoff was the one who broke down the Berlin wall!

  47. edshaw

    I especially enjoyed the Jackson Pollack sequences.
    Never having paid much attention to shock art, this video was kind of like,
    "You sit down and watch this, so at least you have been exposed to it."
    Turned out to be informative and entertaining.

  48. walterpaulbebirian

    the whole picture given in this series gives me the idea that there is so much more distance for art to go - so much for it to do - and so much more depth for there to be dealt with - in the life that there is yet to be lived -

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