May 31, 2016

"Kevin... placed his Burberry glasses on the floor beneath a placard describing the theme of the gallery."

"He said neither he nor TJ did anything to influence museum visitors, such as standing around and looking at the glasses. Within about three minutes, people appeared to be viewing their handiwork as bona fide art, though Kevin said that without his glasses, he could not see what was happening too well."

Art prank.

I say an art prank is art anyway, so what difference does it make?*

It's nice that some teenagers thought of doing this and pulled it off so quickly and elegantly, but we've seen things like this many times before, perhaps more commonly in the form of someone in a gallery staring at something that's not an artwork and causing others to regard the thing as art. I seem to remember reading about Salvador Dali doing something like that. And of course there are all the stories about some artwork being seen as trash and thrown out.

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*The difference is, you're putting your art in someone else's gallery, without invitation. It's like hanging one of your own paintings on a museum wall. Or... that would damage the wall. It's like making a drawing on a Post-It note and sticking it up next to drawings in a museum.

ADDED: Back in 2011, Meade put his whole-body art in the Milwaukee Art Museum right next to the Duane Hanson sculpture, "Janitor":

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32 comments:

Tommy Duncan said...

This is a nice explanation of why, as a math/science guy, I often struggle to find the import of Ann's posts. The academic and liberal minds (imagine the Venn diagram overlap) are foreign to me.

David Begley said...

If a reasonable person can confuse an item intended to be art to be trash, then it is not art.

MadisonMan said...

The Obvious Link.

I could dig up some old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons on this too.

Michael McClain said...

Over-educated idiots.

Curious George said...

You want to see art, go to a ball game. See a 6-4-3 double play. That's art.

Oso Negro said...

I am convinced that the sensibilities of painters and sculptors were largely ruined by the experiences of Europeans in the First World War. Visit any decent European art museum and compare the before and after.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Evidence that much of what is called art is little more than junk wrapped up in pretentious language devoid of any substantive meaning. Kinda like most writing in liberal arts these days.

Not only is the Emperor wearing no clothes, he isn't even an emperor.

Wayworn Wanderer said...

I once attended a gallery show at our university. The central artwork was a bunch of alphabet wood blocks strewn on the floor with a broom on top of them.

I made the mistake of asking a member of our art faculty how I would know it was art if it weren't on display in the gallery.

coupe said...

I wonder how many people knew what Burberry f'n glasses are?

I know I don't...

Are they she-male oriented? ...only worn by puffers?

Ann Althouse said...

"I wonder how many people knew what Burberry f'n glasses are?"

Ha ha. I know.

I think the NYT wrote it that way to forefront that they were expensive eyeglass frames, which might affect how you'd think about seeing them on the floor.

Ann Althouse said...

"I made the mistake of asking a member of our art faculty how I would know it was art if it weren't on display in the gallery.:

There are many ways to view that as a mistake. Which way is the way you have in mind? Let me guess: It unleashed verbiage that you were sorry you had to hear.

gerry said...

This is a nice explanation of why, as a math/science guy, I often struggle to find the import of Ann's posts.

Meh. Most of the time, it isn't worth the struggle.

MadisonMan said...

Let me guess: It unleashed verbiage that you were sorry you had to hear.

That was my guess too. It's hard to listen to boring professors talk about things only they know and care about. I suspect the answer was chock full of Art Lingo/Jargon.

Paddy O said...

Everything is art.

We're in a very Buddhist stage of aesthetics.

Of course, art like religion is also a scam in many parts, a power play. There are artists and there are those who control the art world. Everything is art, art is intended to notice, but you need official space and license to have people notice particular items in particular ways. The art is not in the object it is in the subjective control of the artist over the observer.

Placing glasses on the floor, people notice. It's heresy. Undermines the seriousness of the curator of the art, adjusting people's observations and moods and experiences in noncurated ways. It exposes the idea that if everything truly is art, then there is no need for curation at all. You have to notice everything in a new way, but not everything, because then you don't need to go to a museum. You need to worship in the way the appointed clergy guide you and make sure you pay your tithes and show other devotees your ardent faith.

CWJ said...

When I clicked through, I was disappointed to see how formally the glasses had been placed on the floor. I expected them to be at an odd angle, up on one end with one or both bows folded like much modern scupture. But upon reflection, having them "stare" staight out from the wall with both bows fully extended showed that they were placed there and didn't just drop accidentally. That intentionality was probably what convinced some that it was an exhibit..

Sacrificing artistry in service of convincing the viewer that it s art. Brilliant!

Original Mike said...

I was walking in Sydney last year, down by the Harbour Bridge, and came upon a sign that said "Artwork Ahead". A little while later there was an old car crushed by a boulder that, I'm pretty sure, was the artwork. The best part was, a little ways down the block was another sign, "End Artwork".

Oso Negro said...

I thought burberry was a color only recognizable to some and homosexuals. Or maybe a scent of candle for sale at the mall.

Fernandinande said...

Hot air is causing the art levels to rise.

Ann Althouse said...

"This is a nice explanation of why, as a math/science guy, I often struggle to find the import of Ann's posts.'"Meh. Most of the time, it isn't worth the struggle."

It's like getting down on the floor to inspect the Burberry glasses: Is it art? Is it a prank? Did somebody lose their capacity to see?

Earnest Prole said...

I believe you're thinking of Marcel Duchamp. Ninety-nine years ago he “purchased a urinal from a sanitary ware supplier and submitted it . . . as an artwork ” . . . “a quintessential example . . . of what he called a readymade, an ordinary manufactured object designated by the artist as a work of art.”

Earnest Prole said...

And Oso Negro is correct: it's no accident Duchamp's "Fountain" is dated 1917.

tim maguire said...

I'm reminded of a Murphy Brown episode where her house painter has an art exhibit (going on ancient memory here, couldn't find a youtube clip) and a group of society types walk into an empty room and start going gaga over a crack in the wall and a no smoking sign. At the end of the scene, a dropcloth falls on them and they conclude they are the art.

Sebastian said...

"as a math/science guy, I often struggle" Clearly, you haven't come up with the right theory yet. Meta-premise: the import of AA posts is to make reality-based, refutation-oriented, logically-thinking "math/science guys" struggle. Each post on law, Madison, art, fashion, politics, Scott Adams, Dylan, art, and so on, illustrates how for non-"math/science guys" personal perception takes precedence over actual knowledge of the real word out there. The frames and filters matter most. (Of course, you can hang a whole epistemology on that, and people have, and yes, the distinction is overstated, but still.) So the issue of political bias in law school faculties and hiring gets reduced to "I haven't studied my colleagues' political references," or some wild speculation by a cartoonist becomes "incredible clever," or a prank exposing the vacuousness of the "art world" becomes a form of art inviting us to think deeply about the nature of art and reality [inferences supplied for the benefit of math-science guys]. This is not at all meant as a criticism: I come back here because, suck-up alert, AA is the best at what she does. There are a lot more like her than "math-science guys," so the way she thinks also matters empirically. She is also honest in following through on her perspectivism, in teaching the framing rather than taking positions in con law, and in tolerating people of very different "persuasions" on her blog. That's rare, and worth sticking around for.

glenn said...

In Jimmy Breslin's book "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" a young Italian cyclist comes to New York to participate in a bicycle race organized by the Mafia. He is a big fan of a "famous pop artist" After spending a few minutes with the artist he spots the con and says "You must show me how you do this thing". Or as one of my art teachers used to say to the turtleneck wearing bafflegab spouting "budding artist" "Draw me a cow" Dali could and did draw cows.

Fernandinande said...

glenn said...
Dali could and did draw cows.


That was Salvador Dairy.

JAORE said...

So very much of it is an art prank.

Just not labeled as such.

Freeman Hunt said...

What does that say for the other pieces in that part of the museum?

mikee said...

In the late 1970s at my small, southern, Baptist-affiliated college, a couple of guys got a sign reading "Cunning Linguists Do It With Their Tongues" on ESPN during a home football game.

There was a minor uproar by the more religiously fanatical alums, ably handled by our university President, who said, "At least they spelled all the words correctly. That has to count for something when considering our students today."

Ahh, for the days when adults could stop silliness with a pithy comment.

The Godfather said...

Meade looks almost lifelike!

Richard said...

I have a very simple rule when in come to modern art. If I can do it, it ain't art!

John said...

I call it pfart. Asis much of the crap that passes for art these days.

I first saw phart, for phoney art here in the comments a while back. Wish i could reme,ber who to k.

SE Flores said...

This is probably the most fun the NY Times has had at the expense of their target demo in a while.