"My problem with modern art has always been how you define bad from good or indifferent ?"
Well, the way I look at that is this: there's a lot of art considered 'classic' now that during its time was considered trash. That fact goes wayyyyyy back. So, at the end of the day, 'bad' or 'good' or 'indifferent' are opinions that still, ultimately, lie with the artist and the viewer. IOW, YOUR opinion, your feeling for, or lack thereof, is VALID.
"With music or literature you can see the craft and the skill. You may not admire the artist entirely but you can see they know what there doing as a musician or writer...but modern art?"
Tracey is not an uneducated artist and uses several mediums. Which is true of many artists. Some stick with one medium and that's that. Others need a variety of them to get where they want to get. Not being able to see the skill doesn't necessarily mean it's not there. Take Van Gogh. A lot of people think he couldn't do realism, but he could and very well. But that wasn't HIS vision when he looked at a thing. He had to paint or express what he saw and what he was trying work out at any given time. Why does an artist, who could, for instance, draw your portrait to near photographic realism CHOOSE abstraction or minimamlism or any other -ism? It's basically because they're responding to an impetus in their own head. No two people, looking at the same thing, necessarily see it the same way...maybe one person fixates on the light reflected on the apple while the other sees the apple as an apple and that's that. I dunno..I'm not any kind of academic expert, this is just best as I can explain what I understand, or don't, of things lol
"That's why I blow hot and cold about Emin, though I understand what she's trying to put across. I find a lot of her work....how can I put it politely....lazy."
You're probably not alone, not that that matters to you one whit. And, ultimately, it's not your 'problem', ( for lack of a better word ), if you don't 'get' an artists work. It's theirs. But even if the artist could render common things in a common enough way for say, 98% of the viewers to 'get' it, that wouldn't nullify the reaction of the other 2%. And even among that 98%, there would be differing opinions on what was good or bad about it.
If the artist herself sat down and explained it, you might raise your respect for her effort or education more, but still feel the work itself is subpar compared to her *intent*. And no matter how much your opinion of *her* was raised, you still might not want one scrap of her work. I mean, that's my hella long winded way of saying that your opinion, IMHO, is as valid as anyone else's, whatever you do or don't know, or understand, about an artist.