Modern Abstract: does art need to have a message?

Georges Braque (1882-1963) | Fauve / Cubist painter

by LJ Frank

She stood looking into my eyes with her hands resting on her hips, wearing a short, spaghetti strap dress exposing her long, toned bare legs and toeless sandals hugging her feet. Her toenail polish matched the color of her dress.

I’m hot!

My eyebrows rose. Noticing my facial expression with the corner of my lips turned up as in the birthing of a smile she interjected that her expression was in reference to the weather.

I nodded with a mixed emotion as my initial organic and slightly lascivious thought vanished. It was our day off, together.  

We were friends in that we understood each other much of the time, even in silence. We knew each other’s weakness and what it was like to be smothered if not crushed. Spilling one’s blood on the soil of one’s heart is the beginning of being a true artist, or so I read in a 1930’s novel indexed with folded corners of pages and covered in smudge marks.

I’m feeling abstract. I noted.

So am I.

We decided to go downtown.

I’ll drive, she said.

Thank you.

The next thing I knew, we were riding in her used red convertible Volkswagen Beetle and heading to the art museum. It was affordable. A donation for a cultural cause of which we both could relate.

During the drive we talked about her evening class, meet up group, and work. She no longer worked for a financial investment firm. She would lay in bed during the evening hours thinking about investments followed by dreams of being chased and devoured by wild animals. Except for one recent night in which she dreamed of wearing a strap on with a short thick phallus and handling the 25-member university soccer team, doggy style, beginning with the smallest person first. The intriguing thing, soccer was a sport she didn’t see the point of but then most sports she felt were pointless, except to channel young men’s and women’s libidos.

Men or women’s soccer team or both? I asked.

Does it matter?

I suppose not…what do you think these dreams mean for your future?

Not being trapped, or experiencing suffocation, she said. Except for the recent one. Frustration reversed. Being in control.

Is there any other meaning besides becoming self-empowered?

There’s no meaning or message to life or art except that which we give it. No duality except in our head. Recall what Hamlet said to his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. The problem with no duality is that we live in a world that sees things in black and white, up and down, good and evil, etcetera.

History of human experience.

We’re surrounded.

Trapped? Where are you Buddha?

And there’s the age thing.

The age thing?

I stopped counting my age at fifty.

Age is a useless indicator of any person’s internal age. Physical and mental health and the ability to fantasize are factors in aging with grace, in my mind.

How many days, hours, minutes do I have…does it matter? She asked.

We pulled into the parking garage near the museum, where she found a space next to an exit leading to the outside. We walked to the art museum and once inside we headed to a gallery to view a new exhibit on modern abstract paintings.

Our eyes scanned the paintings, stopping at one in particular.  

Existence, she whispered as she cocked her head.

I nodded.

Do you know the highlight of my life has been visiting the local coffeeshop to try the new beverage of the month. The meetups proved boring.

And the art museum?

Affirmation of consciousness.

Hm. I recently met an older woman here that was attracted to me. She was kindly and sweet. I liked her…after an afternoon together we kissed. It was passionless lips only…I needed the thick lips of passion. It was friendly but…

You mean the passion of sucking tongue?

Wouldn’t hurt.

It could be gross with the wrong person.

Perhaps passion is dead for the aged. Does one die when passion is gone?

Easier to philosophize I suppose when you get older….my mind suggests I stay busy for the sake of healing. I travel in my mind. It’s less expensive.

Only the financially wealthy, soldiers of enigmatic fortune, or missionary types travel the physical world today. The rest mimic and go in debt. Bankers love it.

Are the rich culturally more aware?

Depends on the depth of their thought processes.

Hm. I rationalize…be happy with what I have…

Illiteracy is not bliss. 

Sounds biblical.

I never found work fully satisfying. It was a means to an end.

Except for the conversations with colleagues.

Hm. I actually am more productive at home. Less interruptions.

I like social and intellectual intimacy and a position that allows for healthy food and fine wine on the table. And a good fuck side dish now and then.

There’s always mechanical dolls with changeable parts.

There’s the need for a living wage with perks.

And the reshaping of meaning of lifestyle.

Mine has already been reshaped a few times.

Where are you going in life?



I can’t walk down the avenue without a camera watching me.

Identification. The phone you carry with you. You’re traceable when you don’t want to be.

What’s new?

Not much.

Abstractness is more pervasive.

When haven’t you felt that way?

Is it that obvious?

Perhaps we do need to get a glass of wine. It’s mid-afternoon.

Sounds good. Let’s make our way to the café.

How’s your writing coming along?

Sounds like a cliché, that is, I write but who reads books anymore save the same older readers who are dying off? Admittedly my blog is well-read.

Readers read and listen to book reviews. I read text messages throughout the day.

Did you just get one?

Yeah. It reads, the cafe down the street from the church is fine. I’ll bring “it” with me.



Who’s it from?

No name. I don’t recognize the telephone number. 

Same area code?

Yeah. The message was probably meant for someone else.

Are you sure?

Let’s see what’s on the menu.

As we sat down a waitress approached and said, I have a message for a couple that matches both of your description.