Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The art of pretension...

I mentioned a while back about the TV show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist which S and I have been watching. Turns out that it was aired in America in 2010, so we’re really behind the times with it, but I’m resisting the temptation to Google who won. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s basically like Next Top Model but for artists and each week they have a different theme to create work around and need to impress the judges in order not to be kicked off the show.

Or to put it another way - I fell asleep and didn't have
enough time to actually put anything in the frame.
*Disclaimer - Any resemblance in this illustration to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental*

Last week’s episode really annoyed me because the only untrained, down to earth, calls a spade a spade artist left on the show was asked to leave. Erik may not have been the best artist there but he really appreciated the opportunity and wasn’t a privileged art student full of pretentious crap who knows how to bulls*it the judging panel.

The task that week was to be split into 2 teams and come up with an outdoor art installation in a park in New York. Erik’s downfall was being put in a team with Miles (the stereotypical pretentious art student). Everyone shot down any ideas Erik had and he, understandably, got fed up being ignored and being used only to ‘carry heavy stuff’. He stood up for himself against the other 3 team mates (one of whom, no matter what the theme, seems to end up in the shared toilets stripped naked taking photos of herself for inspiration!)

Miles took over the task then complained about being the project leader. He was clearly paying attention in class the day they were advised how to talk the talk when it comes to what art critics want to hear. He generally decides it's all too much for him, curls up in a corner to fall asleep while everyone else is frantically working on their pieces then wakes up with 5 minutes to go and produces a ‘piece of art’ which his sleep miraculously inspired. 

One week the theme was to choose some bits of thrown away junk and make a sculpture.  He made a sort of bed with two giant a*sholes made out of concrete on either side (I kid you not) which he then decided to fall asleep on during the actual exhibition – he won the task that week even though his piece didn't include one bit of the junk they were supposed to have used. Seriously.

Anyway, Erik called him on being a super actor, having the tortured artist persona down to a tee but unfortunately it seems that the judges’ heads are also imbedded in Mile’s concrete a*sholes as they think he’s the next best thing since Damian Hirst and have fallen totally for his ‘creative genius’. 

As for Damian Hirst – he’s been on the news this week with his retrospective exhibition full of sharks and baby cows in formaldehyde. He’s made something like £100 million from his work – I refuse to call it art. Clearly he’s the world’s cleverest con man or the idiots buying his pieces are the world’s stupidest rich people.

End of rant.


  1. I think I've seen that show and your recap made me LOL several times. I don't think there's one bit of reality in reality TV shows and I wish the real deal would stick around rather than all the a*sholes. Btw, I think Damian Hirst is a freak with mega connections. He does nothing for me.

  2. Ha! This post is great - it is so much fun to hear your thoughts on this show! I have to admit I'm a bit addicted to it - I agree with your assessment of Miles. When I was in art school I had classes with a Miles clone (although he was obsessed with sculpting giant female genitalia)... He talked the talk too - very annoying.

    I look forward to finding out what you think of the rest of season 1 (and just wait 'til you get to season 2)!!!


    p.s. I loooved your post below and your photos are beautiful!

  3. my husband really enjoyed that show, its not on anymore here in Canada but I know the season you are speaking (writing about).I also agree with you about Miles,

  4. Haven't seen this show in the UK it sounds like addictive viewing. Loving your painting above.....lol Annette x

  5. Oh I want to see that show too! But I don't get Sky over here. I must admit that most of modern art today is a mystery to me, and not my thing. As to Damian Hirst, who's been in the papers here almost every day too - I just hope the exhibition is over by the time I'll be in London in summer, so that I can go and see some real art...

  6. Oh wow Nicola - You have just articulated my own thoughts PERFECTLY! I have also been watching the program too and find it really frustrating! You are right, there is so much pretentiousness in art that it frankly makes a mockery of the whole thing along with those of us who really try to create something beautiful and work really hard to achieve it. Your artistic depiction of your thoughts, along with the narrative made me laugh out loud, in a room, on my own and that's quite rare! And of course the drawing doesn't look at all like Miles ;0)
    I was once taken to an Art Gallery in Amsterdam and was both bemused and amused by a group of people who were staring intently for about half an hour at a HUGE canvas on the wall with a tiny red dot in the middle. I was bemused by what on earth they found so fascinating by it and amused by the fact that such seemingly intelligent people could get so sucked in by all of that pretentious rubbish. How stupid are they? The Artist must be laughing his head off! Another program I watched on Sky Arts featured an 'Artist' who had taken six years to complete his canvas - which was actually just a black canvas! Apparently he had glazed layer upon layer of colours to achieve the depth of black. I am sorry but what a load of old cobblers! Rothko is another who baffles me completely. In fact, I could name so many! Ugh - Now I am ranting! But I am RIGHT with you! :0)

  7. I have actually seen this show on the net. There are bits of video that you can see so I know who won. :)) But show is a show. People act a different way when they are put in this artificial environment with people they would normally not interact in real life and are given challenges each week to top it off. I frankly don't find that very much "art" when you are forced to come up with certain style in certain medium.

    I actually don't agree with you about Erik though. I thought he was very arrogant and full of himself and was looking to blame others for his mistakes. He must have known that if they lost that challenge he would be the one to be kicked off. And by acting the way he did, he made it very easy for them.

    Wait until you see who won. :)) I'm actually glad that that person won but what bothers me that he/she (I don't want to give it away for you) had to change his/hers style completely from what it was in the beginning. And that just shows you what the show is about. It's not about your talent and style but if you're willing to change to please the judges.

  8. Your illustration puts me in mind of the early days of computers being introduced into small to medium sized companies ... PCs were just beginning to take take shape.

    The world suddenly sprouted 'software/hardware' salespeople/consultants who spoke chiefly in technobabble.

    Hewlett Packard produced a booklet divided into three parts. Each part contained garbage, that almost made sense. The idea was to take any phrase from each section and then speak the three unrelated phrases as one sentence. This was used as the acid test that a potential client should use on the 'boffin' salesman/consultant.

    I used the booklet over the years and never once did I get challenged, invariably my nonsensical sentences would be met with enthusiastic nods and, 'Absolutely...!'

    I finally introduced my own phrase, 'Operating System Hardware Interface Terminated.' Which I abbreviated during conversation ... It was great to hear the consultants discussing what was the cause of my ' O S.H.I.T' problem.

    On the Reality progs., I have visions of the director calling, "Cut! Can we try that angry scene again ... try to make it sound more spontaneous.."

  9. If this is on SKY I couldnt watch as we dont have Skyhigh (as I like to call it!!). As for Damian Hirst I have to agree with you, its like Tracy Eimen (dont know the spelling!!), "unmade bed" made her millions, why because she is untalented and people are stupid, sorry but I say it as I think it! Saying that if I could make half the money these "artists" make I would. There is always someone who is willing to pay for the "name" and whatever that "name" paints (a red strip on a blank background for example) its suddenly a great work of art. Money always goes to money :)

  10. It's a sad state of affairs,but it's true. In order to make it in the art world,you have to be able to talk the talk, more than ' walk the walk '.

    And as for Mr.Hirst, just Google 'Damien Hirst Plagarism' to see the countless times he's ripped people off, (John Lekay in particular)

  11. I'm with you on Hirst. Don't get him.

    I watched that show even though I swore I wouldn't I got sucked in. I don't remember the names, are you watching Season 1 or 2? Anyway, enjoy. And don't google the winner. Be surprised. The Brooklyn Museum is not far from where I live so I went to see the winner's show of the first season. I missed the winner's show of the 2nd season. Oh well.


Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.


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