Okay, admittedly I do not have much of an eye for art. I like Norman Rockwell because all of his stuff looks like - well - real stuff. I like the classics like Da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and of course, Mi Esposa.
I can even appreciate certain works from Salvador Dali and the occasional (and I mean occasional) Picasso.What seems to be totally over my head is much of what is commonly referred to as "contemporary art" (that is unless the word contemporary is Latin for anything but).
Years ago, I was at Los Angeles' Museum of Modern Art (note: I was there totally against my will) there was one picture that had an entire wall dedicated to it. It was just a circle painted on a canvas. Basically - it looked just like this:
"See his use of colors, and the juxtaposition of the circle at the center of the earth versus the square at the end of our existence is exquisite, the white background representing the void of our lives - blah, blah, blah de friggin blah...
I couldn't help myself - I screamed out - "It's just a fucking circle!!! He drew a circle that any five-year old could have drawn! Wait - he probably did even draw it - probably just put a paint can down on some canvas by accident. It's just a....."
Of course I was swiftly escorted from the museum. As I was dragged out I heard a cascade of hurtful insults hurled my way from the patrons - Hillbilly!, Rube!, Neanderthal!
Wow, I thought to myself - maybe I should rethink my narrow, shallow view of the art world (I sure could have used a circle to mindlessly stare at that moment).
So, I decided to Google "International 2011 contemporary art awards" to see what was trending all these years later. Here was the grand prize winner from http://www.e-flux.com/announcements/international-contemporary-art-prize-diputacio-de-castello-2011/:
"her installation is an aesthetic and historical exploration of the artistic correspondence between the geometry of designs for display cases and shop windows and their relationship with architecture, theatre and commercial concepts rooted in economic aspects and a drive towards marketing. Symmetry, a core axis of many of these disciplines, serves the artist as an artistic-historic ground base for a profound examination while at once lending particular attention to the artistic component in rendering the installation."
Let me paraphrase - blah, blah, blah de friggin blah... Christ - I think it's the same room divider Mi Esposa wanted to buy from IKEA. How is this not entitled My Wife Doesn't Know How to Pick Out Clothes Hangars?"
Okay - I shouldn't get biased by a single Google search. Let me do two. I Googled most expensive piece of contemporary are and came up with
Source = wikis.nyu.edu this piece (on the left) by an artist (cough) named Jeff Koons. It sold for $27 million!! Basically, it's a nine foot tall, four foot thick stainless steel, polished, heart. Or as I see it - the world's larges Christmas Tree ornament.
Wait a minute - maybe I have rushed to judgement. Yes - I have, I would like to present my new art work (right) entitled Two Hanging Hearts. It consists of two nine foot tall, four foot thick stainless steel, polished hearts. It took the artist (me) more then three minutes of his lifetime to create.
To me, art can't just be something anyone can do and in my view contemporary art is to real art as Karaoke is to real singing. Isn't it time that someone says that the King has no clothes when he is obviously standing there naked?
I guess I may be a hillbilly, but it just seems to me that what we call art ought to go beyond simply slapping down our own mind's eye and have something to do with a unique talent.
Let me give you an example - This is my work - The Artist Formerly Known as the WordsofWhizDumb Guy:
I call this piece Yellow Sun Against White Sky. Notice the subtle way I use an egg yoke as the sun speaking to the real question we have been facing since time began and we first felt our faces warmed by this heavenly sphere - What came first - the chicken or the egg? Current asking price for this work is $4 million.
Add a little outline and I have created a new masterpiece that answers the old age question posed above. I call it The Eggs. I created it simply by taking my first masterpiece and drawing some line around it and then doing the old cut and paste. Current asking price $ 8 million (or, if you can only afford one egg - I am willing to cut it in half - $4 million each.
By simply removing the yokes and placing two circles in the middle I have
created my new masterpiece - Yoke Breasts. While my The Eggs were over easy, this creation is easy on the eyes. I believe it's historical importance will be rooted in it's depiction of man's desire to answer the age old question - which part of the chicken is better - the eggs or the breasts? Notice how the Yoke Breast stares at you, if as they were eyes looking into your souls. This piece goes for $12 million and there is no option to split the breasts like their was with The Eggs - sorry, I have standards.
Two Men Walking Abreast. It has deep rooted meaning as it speaks to how men are bonded together by their common admiration of breasts - while at the same time it is that very breast that keeps them apart.
This piece is currently on tour with the What Men Thing About While They are Walkingcollection. After that tour, it will available in both black and white and color and can be yours for $14 million.
This worked is entitled Woman With Three Boobs and represents my first foray into the world of political art.
Note the blank expression on her face. Is it her protest against men who only notice the part of her body that is below her chin? (guess it could have also been entitled Hey - I Guess My Eyes Aren't Up Here!). Or is it because she feels that she has lost herself in the current political environment that only sees her as a faceless voter? You decide - but if you want to hang it on your wall - $16 million please.
I call this Eyes Without a Face. It is a simple expression of what man really sees (i.e., boobs) and was created through the use of two breast yokes and some black crayon.
This piece goes for $30 million as I must split the royalties with Billy Idol, whose song of the same name inspired the paintings title.
There you have it - more than a $100 million in contemporary are created through the use of low end free photoshop knockoff software and generated in a span of 15 minutes. Whooo - I physically and emotionally spent.
Now I'm not saying that there aren't talented contemporary artists out there - Andy Warhol for example. It just seems to be that is it a catch phrase that we hand on a lot of stuff that has us scratching our heads - and not i n that deep reflective head scratching way - more in that WTF? head scratching way.
Also beware of the term controversial artist. Sometimes it is used to describe someone who is a damn good painter, but paints stuff like Jesus with a Hitler mustache. However, too often it is used to describe someone who's stuff really isn't art.
I would like to suggest some criteria for evaluating whether we view something as art or not. Here goes:
- It must be painted or sculpted - no assembly required. I don't want to see 5 lunchboxes placed on top of a motor cycle entitled Meals on Wheels.
- If painted - no splatter - no throw stuff of a canvas - no single symbols (circle, square, triangle, et al).
- I could not draw it.
- A 5th grader could not draw it.
- You could not replicate it with a Spirograph.
- It cannot just be common things rearranged in a different order (otherwise every tornado and furniture mover is an artist).
- Can't be something seen in an IKEA catalogue.
- Can't be common things blown up to a larger size - if so, the only difference between an artist and everyone else on the planet is one's access to raw materials.
- It's got to look like something.
Just a start - there probably are a lot more we should add. Or who knows, maybe one day I will grow up and finally develop an appreciation for this stuff. In the meantime - I'll just look for recommendations from people I respect - Like Tom here - he knows art when he sees it.