Work of Art: Insulting? Inspiring? Intolerable? All of the above

junkyardarts June 10, 2010 Comments Off on Work of Art: Insulting? Inspiring? Intolerable? All of the above

Here it is – the start of Work of Art, the new Bravo show in which a panel of admittedly esteemed judges decide on the next big artist…or big work of art…or something along those lines.

As someone who has been working in and around the arts for my entire life, and professionally for the past 8 years I can say the premise of this show was unnerving.  Of course, the idea of being able to take a group of random artists and declare that the ‘next big work of art’ has come from this contest, or that the ‘next big artist’ was chosen by this method is silly for a few reasons:

1. art is not meant (unless this is the process of the artist) to be created at the drop of a hat, with no vision and no real established method.

2. pitting artists of varying genres against each other and then declaring one piece better than another is difficult and gimmicky, not to mention patently silly and lacks an understanding of true criticism and art appreciation.

3. the mentor Simon de Pury, a prominent figure in art as a collector and auctioneer, says within the first 30minutes that he can “within the first few seconds” recognize if a work is great or not.  So much for nuance. Or symbolism. Or conceptualization . Or THOUGHT.

4. Its reality TV and I have an inherent distrust of their choice of artists, judges and over all – the entire premise of this show.

Now there are a few good things that can come out of this, mainly that art is making its way into out pop culture again.  While Im not really dying for a Warhol revival or anything, it is nice to see that art is being presented to the mass public which means there is now an open dialogue about art appreciation, understanding and education.  If anything this show will bring up in conversation the topic of fine art and how we all relate to it.

Things Im already sick of hearing on this show:

“I live for art”     “My work is really cerebral”       “so and so’s work is really not good…it’s undeveloped”       “Ive worked with *insert famous artist here*”      & “They don’t understand”

Things that are promising/horrific:

1. there seems to be some genuine talent here.  A few of the artists are pretty established such as Trong, Peregrine & Judith, though I might not be a huge fan of their work, I appreciate that some artists with chops are in this competition.

2. there are some reality tv archetypes here that I will either make me laugh at their expense or cry myself to sleep.  Those would be Busty McGee, or Jaclyn who immediately said she worked with Koons and then demonstrated her completely banal ‘half nude chick in sexxxy position painted on canvas’ shockmeshockme Busty – its been done, and better, and by your mentor – you’d think she would get the hint to evolve.  She also said she couldn’t paint a portrait of Judith because she’s “not used to painting someone as old as her…”.  Yes.  The next best artist in America can’t paint someone past the age of 22, says things like “for her age” and paints self portraits with stars over her vagina.  She’s so edgy guys.  Maybe I just don’t understand her work!

Other contestants include

*The OCD hipster who omg messed something up and freaks out but evrytng iz kool at the end!

*The bitchy performance artist who insists on insulting all the other artists (which, listen, Im all about not liking artworks, but give me a real reason, not just a flippant comment).

*The guy that does photoshop.

*The Amateur.

*Others.

Final thoughts on the episode:

I actually enjoyed a few of the pieces, and a few from personalities I don’t particularly like.  Other pieces were painfully bland, uneventful, amateur and embarrassing to see revealed on television.

The judges art-speak was alienating, I can only assume, to so many normal viewers, though I could see them making an effort to bring it down to the layman.  I will say their inability to conceptualize some of the work was embarrassing for them,  and infuriating as an art professional to watch as they just…couldn’t…get…some of the very simple explanations of the work.

Saying things like “it’s too minimalist” .  I mean, too minimalist for who? You? Does that negate the value of the work because you, keeper of the Artz, don’t like it?  I mean shit, if they need everything laid out on the canvas in plain English, then Ill get my art elsewhere.  Which brings me to the gallery owner who said “If I can’t get off on the piece I can’t expect someone else to” – because we all know that selling art that is of a genre of which we are not the biggest fans is impossible since the world has the same taste.  ugh.

Best quote: “I am not responsible for your interpretation of my art.” – Fucking A-men sistah.

Winner: Miles – OCD Hipster for his screen print/plastic portrait.

Loser: Amanda (an Others)- her work of art didn’t work for them (or me – yikes).

On to the next!

Work of Art / Bravo TV

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