Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New York art...or scribble scrabble?

With the advent of reality TV we have all become arbiters of taste and worth.  For example, after years of watching American Idol we're all entirely fit to make expertly damning pronouncements on any singer... "bit pitchy in spots "..."not feeling it"..."a mediocre karaoke singer"..."it's tame, it's weird". And my favourite Simon-says: "utterly hopeless".

Just wait for Bravo's latest offering to take hold. It's the rather clumsily-named "Work of Art: the Next Great Artist ". I watched it for five hours straight on the plane trip to New York. On arrival I was kicking myself for not having opened a gallery in Soho, like this one in pic below. Such was the level of my new-found expertise.

 In "Work of Art...", 14 artist contestants are given different art assignments, competing for the first prize of $100,000 and a solo show at the "World Famous" Brooklyn Museum. The judges include gallerists, collectors and respected artists. And after committing to memory the judges' comments, I am now good to lead any art tour. In fact, you may suggest that I start to do art as well. My pics below show Harley,12, walking in front of a short film at the Whitney Museum. Boy and Lightning. Boy and Bird. NufSaid.

So grab your half glasses, your ripped black t and bed-head your hair!  This is your first art tour of New York with the J-Know. J-Show. J-Blow. Me.

It turns out this is all easier than we thought.  It's good art if you feel it: "It's been said that good art is not what it looks like, but how it makes you feel" said one of the judges on the show after viewing a contestant's art piece, "Your work didn't make us feel anything".

More phrases from the show: "It has no status" is going to prove to be handy, together with "it's hotel art" and "looks like very good wallpaper".  And the crushing: "It didn't go deep and it didn't shock".

Armed with this instant art degree, I will walk you around galleries in Soho, New York. I don't want to be a complete philistine, but out of the mouths of babes. Cy, six, and Tallulah, nine, call some of this stuff "scribble scrabble". Why is the piece (above) hanging in OK Harris Gallery worth more than $1,000? Not only is it scribble scrabble but the pen has made holes in the paper.  Stop the madness! OOor maybe it should be a higher price. Pick one.

Now, below, a close-up of the enormous mask in the window of Opera Gallery. It is very disturbing, a huge grotesque blue-eyed doll which is somehow sexual. And phantasmagoric. But it has a finished quality - is that enough to elevate it from design to art? OOOh we're getting the hang of this. It is enough to make it art.

Or this graffiti with Einstein and Salvador Dali. I feel as though I have seen this before and maybe this was what I saw before. So maybe you just have to be first to combine three things.

Or this below? Kidding!!!!! This was real graffiti outside the shop. But we can tell that, because it doesn't have the finished quality. So not art? Or it could be art if it had a price tag on it? Inspired.

Okay, so how does the doll mask (above) differ from this Panda Bear chair (below), found just around the corner at the unbelievably fabulous design store, Moss. The price is right to be art - these chairs are $75,000 each. (With a limited edition 25) And no, you can't have one of the Teddy Bear ones because all 25 of them are sold! But in the end we decide they are not art, because they just make us feel silly and kiddy.  Is this too weak a feeling, thereby designating the pandas to merely a piece of whimsy?

But maybe silly and kiddy is enough to be art. We are now walking through the art room at Four Seasons, where they clearly work hard not to be the dreaded "hotel art", aka kiss of death. The art there inspired Tallulah, nine, to execute one of her best cartwheels.  And that takes a strong feeling.

 Can a blog itself be art?  Yeees. And no. Harley, 12, wrote the link to this blog on the interactive blackboard art at the Whitney Museum.  So you can be art. Until someone grabs the cloth and wipes you out.

I look forward to leading you on my next passion: swooning right now about... hmmm....astro physics!


  1. Great entry. Really enjoyed reading it! :-)

  2. thanks karina. and that's from you, a proper artist!


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