Sunday, January 16, 2011

And They Call This Train Wreck Art?

Don't you love it when the people with more money than sense are the ones who get to decide what constitutes "art"?  You know the types I'm talking about: cocktail dinner set, lavish dinner parties, traipsing off to far away centers of "culture" to get their fix, looking down their noses at the unwashed masses.  All places have such a clique, and ours recently polluted the entrance to a very beautiful arts and culture center with a mass of rusted metal that is a cross between the twisted and tilted remains of the Twin Towers and a 727 flown head first into the ground.

 Of course, since the hunk of junk was welded together by a supposedly famous artist, the clique determined it worthy of both the million dollar price tag and the designation as art.  Any steelworker, blind drunk, could piece together a more visually pleasing structure than the oxidizing monstrosity named "Hallelujah" by its creator.  No doubt the name refers to the welder's joy at conning the deluded clique into buying the piece, and not any heavenly or joyous aspect of the atrocity itself.

This is not to say that all abstract art is devoid of merit.  Some artists are capable of using the colors and textures of Nature in a manner that is pleasing to the eye and soul, even though the form is not something that would be found in a Norman Rockwell painting.  But when a painting or sculpture is deemed to possess artistic merit merely because a certain name is scrawled in the corner, well, it just calls to mind an interview of Pablo Picasso.

The interviewer was in Picasso's studio asking questions while the painter readied a huge blank canvas on the wall.  Attached to the ceiling was a rolling ladder.  Picasso dipped a large brush, one that a house painter would use, in a can of paint; climbed the ladder, set the brush against the canvas, and pushed off from the adjacent wall.  The resulting painting consisted of a single wavy line with a squiggle at the end.  As Picasso signed his work of art, he chuckled about the large sum of money he had just made with 30 seconds worth of work.

Picasso, like P.T. Barnum, knew that there is a fool born every minute.  Too bad such fools wind up on committees to acquire community sculptures.

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